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Grunt Work Cycle: Volume One: The Revisioning: A Rambling Not-Self-Analysis of Process 
19th-Feb-2013 11:18 am
Willie Nelson
I thought back to an old post where bogwitch64 was curious about my writing process for the Southern Arthuriana novel. Now that zero-draft is done (and that's so loose a term it's pathetic: done for a rough-rough draft), it's time for sifting through legal pads and files. See, I'm a marginalia type guy. Got notes for the notes for the notes. Probably would've made a great monk except for that whole celibacy thing, but that's another issue entirely. Or non-issue. GET IT?!

Anyhow, I write in chunks. This novel came in bouts of threes--three acts and three sections per act (yes, there's some funky numerology at work, just go with it). While I didn't avoid the muddle in the middle per se, that damage spread out among the three acts. However, I'm a firm believer in happy accidents and trusting my gut when I write; anytime I have *ever* gone with my red flags or hunches, it's paid off ("The Girl in the Green Sequined Dress" and both Model Mark robots stories come immediately to mind). Here, though, whatever infodumping might have wound up in the novel comes in the form of interstitial bits: news clippings, obits, letters, even episodic chapters from the POV of a POV character who shapeshifts into a crow. In each act, there are around three to four addenda that need filling in to the bubbles left behind in the narrative. I can't even say entire chapters at this point because there come little scenes, too, what require attention. Tidbits and such. In fact, based on how I set up a horse named Tater in the final chapters of Act 1 along with Tater's ghost in the rest of the book--there are a good many ghosts in this story and two of them being critters--it's a matter of going back and writing a smallish scene with a very young version of the protag and the horse.

In my mind's eye, it's always been a question of "Where's this act ending? What's it setting up?" And then writing to those points. Definitely helped me with characters' motivations through and through.

What's it all really mean?

Lots of grunt work, still. I sat down last week and identified those aforementioned bubbles. In many respects, with the damage done to them--and I put them through the mill--what's on deck seems like so much pouring salt in their physical and psychic wounds. Even spiritual. But them's the breaks, folks (and characters). What's already in the text and needs excising? It's not concerning me much because, in many respects, leaving those narrative bubbles in play allow latitude; never once did I feel I'd written myself into a corner, but during the climactic chapters, I had to be quite careful.

So, just a bit about process is all.
Comments 
19th-Feb-2013 05:56 pm (UTC)
Intriguing! And yet, for me, brain-explodey. I don't know if I could keep all that straight. So glad you can!
27th-Feb-2013 09:30 pm (UTC)
Sometimes it feels the opposite, Terri.

Also, I'm seriously considering revising in reverse. Yes. That.
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