Saturday, June 20, 2009

Whiling Away an Idle Moment

Current Reading: Duplicate Effort, by Kristine Katharine Rusch

Inspirational Quote: "Writing a novel is like making love, but it's also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it's like making love while having a tooth pulled." -- Dean Koontz

Here's an interesting exercise:

Take a recent draft of your work in progress. These things are usually subdivided. Chapters. "Books." Something.

For each chapter, write down which POV(s) it's told in, how many words it occupies and a brief summary of what happens (plot points, events that impact character, etc.)

When you're all done, take a look. I don't know what your results will be. Mine are pretty weird. I've got 700 word chapters and 5700 word chapters. I think it's important that chapters have varying lengths, but I suspect I may have taken that a LITTLE TOO FAR. I've got chapters that consist of a character thinking about stuff and taking no action (I don't think that's good), and I've got chapters where nobody seems to have time to think anything (probably not good either). I also have chapters written in the POV of a character who dies later on. I'm trying to figure out if that's a good idea, and I'm beginning to suspect not (who wants to invest time and attachment in someone who kacks 20k words in?).

Incidentally, writing down the plot points in a sentence or two is great raw material for an eventual synopsis or outline. It also makes you think, "If I've told the story of this 2500 word chapter in 50 words, what the devil are the other 2450 words doing?" It had better be something good...

Regardless of your mileage, this caused me to take a look at the Magnus Somnium from a perspective that had never occurred to me before. Obviously, my work needs work.


Justus M. Bowman said...

I'm rather certain I once read a novel in which a POV character died 100 or 200 pages into it. No fun.

Ulysses said...

That's what I'm thinking. It's a good couple of chapters, though, and I hate to change them because they might not be as good when I'm done.

"Kill your darlings," yes, but apparently only kill your POV characters if you're after a particular effect.