Obsession-Every Writer’s Goal

Since I’ve been back in the U.S. I’ve felt some frustration with my writing. I was doing a lot of reformatting, I was scrapping a bunch of writing I actually liked. Overall I felt uneasy and unenthusiastic about my manuscript.

Maybe I was getting burnt out. I lacked direction. I had so much material but wasn’t sure how to turn that into a book. I took a break, almost two weeks I didn’t touch it. I went to New York. I saw friends, I partied, I didn’t write.

I’m happy to say, since then I’ve really hit a stride. All the “thinking” I’ve been doing is paying off. I have a much better structure for the novel, which includes only the most necessary parts. The pace is fast, exciting, not bogged down with extraneous plot lines.

I’ve finally gotten back to the point where, as a writer I feel completely obsessed with the piece. I think about it when I’m not writing, I replay scenes in my mind, dialogues, I work on character traits. I take every opportunity I can to write, edit, revise. In my opinion, as a writer, this state of euphoric obsession is exactly where I want to be.

In the midst of this, I’ve made a few important decisions which I feel happy about.

First, I have decided to break the book down into three “parts”. I’ve found these breaks naturally in the material, and I like how it further divides the manuscript. The first part has thirteen chapters, each fairly short. I am now working on formatting the second part.

Also, I have decided to add several segments with different narrators.The majority of the manuscript is written in third person. Recently I have added several pieces from different first person narrators.

This serves two purposes: First, it makes the narrative more interesting and varied. I get to experiment with different voices. And for the reader it keeps them on their toes. Secondly, it helps to fill in important information gaps that otherwise would be hard to fit in.

Personally, my favorite novels usually have several different points-of-view, different narrators, different voices. I find it more interesting, a more complete and satisfying experience as a reader.

To other writers (or readers!) out there, what is your opinion on different narrators in one novel. Do you enjoy it? Find it difficult to follow? Distracting? I would love to hear from you. And as always, Happy Writing!

Digging Deeper into a Manuscript

I have recently shifted the focus of my writing. The goal is still the same: to finish my novel by the end of the year but I have changed my approach. Up until now I have pretty much been sitting down and writing and writing and writing. I’ve done minimal planning, organization or reconstruction.

I realize that right now instead of adding pages, what I need to do is dig deeper. I am taking a serious look at all my characters and evaluating their personal traits, motivations, weaknesses, strengths. The idea is to get to know my characters better so they can appear more well rounded on paper.

Every character has goals, both internal and external. And to reach these goals there are conflicts. This is the basis of any story. Right now I am honing in on how to make these goals as clear as possible while creating tension throughout the story.

I am also considering the overall premise of the book. What is the message, or how could I sum it up in one sentence? It isn’t an easy thing to do, but I think it will help guide me into making a cohesive novel.

Finally, I am considering paring down. Initially, I was planning on including all six characters back stories, interwoven with the present day plot line. I am now wondering if this is possible, or if it will distract too much from the central plot.

As of right now my word count is around 85,000 words. From the research I’ve done a manuscript shouldn’t be much more that 100,000. Will I be able to squeeze in all the back stories I want without leaving gaping holes or unanswered questions? Or should I get rid of some (or all) of them and instead focus on one central character, past and present?

I’m not ready to make the decision right now, but I feel like it was important to at least consider the idea. As I move forward, I am focusing more on quality instead of quantity and doing more back work to add depth to the story.

Blizzard Blues

I am in Massachusetts in the middle of a 24 hour snow storm. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, it’s the perfect environment for writing. I look out the window and all I see are snow covered trees, snow covered ground.

Inspiration is a strange thing. Is it better to be somewhere quiet, where I can focus on my writing? Or will I find more inspiration being in a big city surrounded by multitudes of different people? What I’m hoping is to achieve the best of both worlds. Spending long weeks in the country with the occasional city binge.

I’ve been writing on and off all day. An interesting observation: I sometimes feel I write my best when I have little to no idea of what I am writing or where it is going. On the other hand, when I have a specific scene in mind, I sometimes feel myself freeze and block.

So how do you complete a novel then? If there are a certain number of scenes I know I need to complete, do I attack them head on, or do I let myself meander and eventually (or maybe not) get to them? I’m curious, how much of a novel does a writer have planned out before it’s written? How much of that plan ends up in the final product?

For the moment, I’m leaving myself open to moving in new and unanticipated directions.