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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Monday, April 24, 2006

speed post

And here I was going to be so virtuous and actually write a post today, only to find, just now, that Blogger.com has scheduled an outage at 4 p.m. PDT (15 minutes from now, by my watch). This is to let you know that I wuz here.

Today is like summer, but with a cool breeze. The sky is empty of clouds, but slightly hazed over, with the sun shining strongly. I took a short run (managed to coax myself into it because of its shortness).

Writing-wise, I am tinkering with chapter 23, developing the story. I find that working on this novel is like working on a TV show: I have some brief notes of what is supposed to happen in a chapter, and now the task lies before me as to how to make that happen. Another TV-like factor is that my story is somewhat episodic, in that there is not a continuous flow of action from one chapter to the next. It's not a matter of ending one chapter with a guy pulling into his empty house to find a light unexpectedly on, and beginning the next with his walking cautiously in the door. Because I'm writing an epic, I must choose carefully which moments to show, pick them from a vast stream of surrounding action. If I do this right, the story should be exciting and interesting: I'm serving you, the reader, only the choicest morsels.

I've had some new story ideas for chapter 23, and have pretty much built a little plot for it. But I'm still working at filling in the surrounding detail, and the backstory leading into this moment, which is months after the last time I left these characters. I'll know when I've reached the threshold of enough material, enough richness, to make me feel confident about starting to write. I find it to be slow and anxiety-provoking, this gradual accumulation of material.

It's now 3:52 p.m. I've written the above in seven minutes. Better save and move on to tea. Back to The Origins and History of Consciousness. Plus another book arrived in the mail today, a blue hardback without its dust jacket: Ego Psychology: Theory & Practice by Gertrude and Rubin Blanck. What exactly is the ego, anyway? I hope to find out.

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  • I have the same problem. Spotlights rather than continuum. Sometimes, it's more than one chapter dedicated to such a spotlight, but never more than some 10K of one action. Having separate plotlines and subplots in most of my NiPs doesn't make it any easier to form a coherent Whole out of those pieces.

    But I can't write a simple plot for the life of me. :-)

    By Blogger Gabriele C., at April 26, 2006 12:35 PM  

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