Thursday, October 4, 2007

Block Removed, Wind on the Quarter

Word count is 137,800.

Silas and the good ship Progress are around Cape Horn and sailing north for warmer, calmer seas and a port call, although the protagonist and supporting cast don't know it yet, in Panama.

I've really struggled with the sea voyage part of the book and it has forced me to so some hard thinking about what is going on. I realized, and this should be no surprise to anyone who has taken a Lit class, that the most important thing is not an endless series of really cool, highly entertaining scenes - although that doubtless helps any story that has hopes of being published.

No, the most important thing must be what happens to the character, how he reacts, learns and grows through all the different experiences that the reader watches him go through. I sat back and thought about Silas, the story, the events, the other characters, and where I was going with it all as the author. I came to a pretty good understanding of what was going on in my own novel and in the life of my own character, and once I saw that I found that I could press forward with the sea voyage. The sea voyage itself wasn't that important, its how the voyage affects Silas that is important.

Once I figured that out I could write the voyage and the words started to flow again. I'm not worried (much) about the voyage being boring (which in reality is day after day of crawling across the ocean) because things are happening to and inside the main character.

Of course, realizing these things and being able, as a writer, to put them down effectively on paper so as to make a good story are two different things. I can draw up a pretty damn good pass play on paper, but with my wrecked right arm I'd have a hell of a time trying to complete it against the Colt's defense. We'll see if I can execute the game plan.

On a somewhat different note, I was discussing the word count with my wife, SFF, my Ideal Reader. Fans of the blog (both of you or the one of you) may recall that I was concerned about it getting too long for it to have a reasonable chance of being published. SFF's previous sage advice had been to just let the story go where it wanted to, the heck with the word count, and we'd see what happens.

Anyway, in discussing the word count she made an offhand comment the other day that I found remarkably encouraging. She said, "Well, regardless of the word count it doesn't READ like its long."

That has to be a good thing, right?

My pendulum is swinging towards optimistic at the moment.

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