I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

In past posts, I’ve mentioned NaNoWriMo, and my attempts to make the whole NaNoWriMo experience easier this time around.  With just over a week left until the big event, I am starting to feel more secure in my planning.  I still need to organize my random notes, but I have at least a hundred individual notes that will need addressing.  When you spread 100 notes over 50,000 words, that comes out to 500 words per item (and falling).  That’s not that much.  In fact, that used to be the golden rule for the amount of words that fit on a page. Though I’m almost through the second novel of my adult life (and the third overall, but let’s bury that other one somewhere beneath the surface of the earth), I can already tell that it isn’t necessarily true.

My current document averages nearly 600 words per page.  That might seem like a lot of short words, and it is. Most of these pages contain dialogue that is written in the style of Arthur Miller–that is, playwright style.  There are rarely any dialogue tags, and the action is kept to a minimal.  I needed to get through the chief points of the scene, and I will try to fill things in later.  Stylistically speaking, this is a rather large departure from the manner in which I used to write. One writing teacher–I’m not sure if it was Adam or Leslie, but I’m almost certain that it wasn’t Wesley–said that it was almost as if my characters were mutes.  There was a lot of description, a lot of action, but not much in terms of speech.  He told me to look at an action film, and that the characters were almost always chattering.  When I think action, I think Stallone and Schwarzennegger. Next time you’re watching an action sequence in First Blood, count how many times John Rambo actually says something.  Don’t worry, it won’t be too hard. At the same time, Schwarzenegger movies go from hardly any dialogue “doe, buck, what is it with the genders of the species?” (paraphased from Hercules in New York) to all of the quips that he gives in True Lies.  In other words, I’ll have to find a medium between the Arthur Miller school of dialogue and a discipleship in James Michener description.

Have you ever noticed how characters seem to surprise you, no matter how simply or complexly you’ve described them?  I’m noticing that with my characters.  Eleanor, the “eye candy” of the story, started out as a character that was more or less a character tag for another character (who as of yet is not satisfactorily named). After a while, she received speaking lines, and pretty soon those speaking lines became plot points.  All of the sudden, she’s not a secondary, but perhaps a tertiary character.  Perhaps the best way of thinking of it is as how Pomona Sprout is essentially background in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and then has speaking lines in “… Chamber of Secrets,” but then becomes active in “…the Deathly Hallows.”  Similarly, Eleanor has had little to do in the first 70,000 words of my novel, but she is beginning to become more relevant. If I add a few more elements to my rough outline, she might even become important.  I am still working on shoring things up, and still need to complete the narrative leading up to NaNoWriMo, but it feels a lot better to have direction. I would like to have the luxury of doing a writing burst by the seat of my pants again, but for the time being, I might as well be content with the opportunities that I’ve created for myself.

There’s still that little matter of the title.  I’ve thought of another potential title, “Beneath the Surface,” but I am still juggling these others around.  I would like to get a good title ready by the end of October, so that I can potentially go about designing a cover.  What do you think? Polls are still open!

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3 Responses to “I Love It When A Plan Comes Together”

  1. Jeyna Grace Says:

    beneath the surface sounds good 🙂

    • jowenenglish Says:

      Jeyna,

      Thank you for your vote. As you probably know, titles are tricky, as are pitches. How do you distill all of your tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of words into something as small as a single word? J.K. Rowling’s system was essentially “Harry Potter” and the “New Element,” and it was compelling because we knew Harry Potter, but were unclear about the new element. I love your idea of writing the tale of an observer watching Tom Riddle’s misdeeds. It is well researched, and I’m finding myself having to use the Harry Potter wiki to make connections. I had no idea how old Voldemort was supposed to be in “The Deathly Hallows” or what Draco’s grandfather was named.

      Though I don’t think Rowling would go in that direction (as the sheer number of fan fiction has probably made her steer away from continuing the HP universe with known characters, I would think that she would go the opposite direction, instead of showing Riddle or James and Lily Potter, showing what Harry Potters children (or grandchildren) might encounter. The fact that you’re not using Harry Potter (and so many fan-ficcers are) makes you distinct, and I believe that Rowling would appreciate your subject matter more than ones that alter or rehash some of the more central characters.

      Best wishes,

      Jim

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