Daily total: 3,396 words Project total: 10,660 words
Today was a very enjoyable writing day. I wrote for just about 3 hours and my pace improved significantly from yesterday. I gave some serious thought to putting in some more writing time today, but I wanted to keep a certain amount of eagerness to push ahead saved in the back of my mind so that when I begin tomorrow, I’m prepared to hit that blank page with an idea of where I want to go.
I had a mental blueprint in my mind of where I wanted the final scenes in Chapter 2 to take the story. I ended up expanding one of those scenes because the writing felt good. I introduced a character that I intend to play a major supporting role, and I feel like she came across with more depth than I expected out of the gate. I was also able to build in a bit more of the main character’s back story and foreshadow some elements of his character arc. I was working hard to balance narrative summaries with dialogue.
In general, I enjoy writing dialogue and I’ve been making a concerted effort to have it do double duty within the context of the story. My first goal at this stage is to have the dialogue advance the plot in some fashion. Whereas some of the earlier dialogue has played the secondary role of revealing elements of the setting, today’s dialogue felt like it revealed more about the characters’ inner lives.
I’m sure that I’ll need to go back through these scenes the same as the others and look for places where I can show rather than tell. I’m also going to want to go back and look for places where I can include extra sensory details without bogging down the writing, as well as shore up some weak spots where I’ve glossed over background elements to keep my momentum going. For example, I’ve had two meals described so far with the most boring food descriptions imaginable. In one case, the food is actually supposed to be dull, but I could certainly describe it with more verve. In the other, I couldn’t immediately think of anything appropriate to the time and location of the meal and I put what is essentially a food placeholder into the scene.
My plan to improve this treatment will involve looking at one of my favorite food references, Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Not only is it great to browse for scientific information on food, it has wonderfully interesting entries on all types of foods and cooking methods from around the world, lots of clear definitions of different types of food terminology, and even quotes sprinkled throughout from historical recipes and descriptions of foodstuffs. It’s also a great reference for a foodie or really serious cook as well. No flashy color pictures, though.
There’s another area where I’d like to throw in a few specific details about some weaponry carried by guards, and there I’ll probably reference Weapons: An International Encyclopedia from 5000 BC to 2000 AD, by The Diagram Group. This black and white volume is a fantastic resource if you get lost in the naming conventions of historical weaponry or just want to know how things work or what they looked like. It’s out-of-print but you can pick up copies cheap.
My major goals at this point have been to focus primarily on developing character and plot and sketch in just enough detail on other subjects to keep the story moving, while marking sections with Comments reminding me to go back and add or polish details in specific areas. We’ll see how that works.
For tomorrow, I’m doing a little review tonight of some architectural references, because the main character will be entering the city that will hopefully become another character of sorts in the story. I’m a little leery of this, because while I find city structure and infrastructure fascinating, descriptions of place are a weak point of mine, probably because I’m fairly oblivious to many elements like color, furniture, and so forth in real life. Authors like Scott Lynch do such an excellent job of creating vibrant cities like Camorr in his Lies of Locke Lamora that the bar in my imagination is quite high. I need to remind myself that I’m not going to reach those heights on my first try, certainly not my first draft. I suppose the long-term remedy for this will be forcing myself to observe my built surroundings more carefully, but that’s not going to be achieved in the next few weeks.