A to Z Challenge 2013

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still Slaving Away

Although I am working hard on NaNo, others have made it clear that this difficult challenge is not all there is to life. Cough...Surly Writer...Cough Yes yes, I get your point. We do not need to become silos of silence, only peeping our heads out long enough to yell out a word count as if the very numbers themselves will cause writers worldwide to proclaim our greatness.

Whew. That was a long sentence. Sorry.

Okay, now that I've had a moment to breathe, let's talk about other things. I stumbled on a couple of posts that were coincidentally useful for me right now. Rachelle Garner had a very interesting post about foreshadowing and telegraphing. And Scott Bailey over at The Literary Lab was talking about the middle of our stories. The reason I call them coincidental is because I am really progressing nicely with this WiP (even though my inner editor is screaming about how crappy the writing is in general), and very soon both of these concepts will be something I need to deal with.

Let's talk about foreshadowing. Prior to reading Rachelle's post, I had not thought about the fact that I could be telegraphing the future events instead of foreshadowing. I am probably guilty of writing hints all the time that are really more blatant than they should be. That after all, is the key. Foreshadowing should be very subtle, as Rachelle is so adept at pointing out.

For example, in my WiP the MC Trevor has a father that disappeared some time ago, with no notice, and leaving no trace. Trevor knows the father did something to alter Trevor's body, his genetic makeup (prior to birth). His father was a brilliant geneticist. Trevor is distinctly different than the rest of humanity and must hide beneath a sophisticated suit or risk all sorts of problems (both legal and social). Out of nowhere however, he is given information that may completely alter his perception of his father, as well as his future existence.

Now I have already crafted the passing of information, clumsily to be sure. That will need to be refined in the 2nd draft, but Rachelle's post helped me see how important it is that I not just drop it in Trevor's lap with a bow. So how do I hint that there is more to the story without it being obvious telegraphing? Honestly, I'm not sure and this may require a great deal of thought. For the first draft though, I'm leaving it at clumsy.

As for Scott's post, he divides stories up into three acts. He pays special attention to the fact that most writers have difficulty with the middle of the story, not the beginning or end. I usually only know the beginning, but surprisingly I have a good idea where this story has started and where it will end. Connecting the two is nebulous at best, and I'm hoping my quasi-planning/writing process will work it out. I'm also worried about pacing, because once this thrill ride gets moving (which is not too far from now in the storyline), I need it to stay at a very active, heart-clenching pace. How do I do this? I have no idea.

Using this WiP as an example again, let me explain. Trevor is significantly different from every other person in society. I won't spoil it by saying how, but suffice it to say that his physical makeup is actually illegal, not to mention socially unacceptable. His own mother considers him an abomination and a coward, since he is too scared to reveal himself to the world. Trevor has enemies however, even if he doesn't know it yet. Once they find out, he will be running (literally and figuratively) for his life. The pursuit will be hot on his heels at every turn, and I will have to be careful to not allow any significantly quiet moments. Only when he reaches a sanctuary of sorts can the story slow down, which by that time should mean I'm in the 3rd and final act.

How am I going to craft this? Only my muse knows. Any advice on either subject is very welcome, by the way. I am happy to be almost blindly stumbling through this process, but I wouldn't begrudge a lit candle now and then.

Oh, and incidentally I did manage a decent amount of words yesterday (2675 to be exact). It was more of a struggle than the first night, though I can't really say why. The story just wasn't flowing as well as I would have preferred. I still have to do my allotted time this evening, but I wanted to get a post up.

So there, Michelle. Take that ya dirty rat! You had to read through my entire post just to see my total, so nyah nyah! :P


Davin Malasarn said...

Eric, Really nice post. I'm doing Nano too. This is my first time trying. My username is dmalasarn if you want to find me....no problem if you don't, LOL.

Thanks for the link about the foreshadowing. It's something I think I have a vague idea of, but I haven't read much about how other people describe it. The one thing I tell myself to make sure I foreshadow without being too obvious is to take my time. Drop little hints here and there, but be willing to leave some of it a mystery.

Michelle H. said...

Hee-hee, thanks for the plug. Really, I have nothing against Nano. I think it's a great exercise in focusing on the story. But don't let the word count rule over your mind to the point where that becomes the main focus of the challenge.

What really gets me are the posts popping up in my reader where the writer has made 6 posts as a countdown on how many words they've written and nothing else. I see Nano as more of a writing experience to expand oneself, not a numbers game to the finish line.

2675? That's great. I usually go zombie-fied at 2500. Yah got me beat there!

Tere Kirkland said...

Yeah, I was really worried about this while writing my last WiP since it was a murder mystery. I'll have to count on my betas to tell me if I'm telegraphing.

This NaNo project has been like pulling teeth for me, because I'm not sure exactly what I want to happen yet. Didn't do nearly enough plotting, so it's a new experience for me.

Good luck with your project, Eric!

Danyelle said...

*Very nice. :)

*NaNo cookies*

Thanks for the links. I love posts like those (and this), because a writer is never so great that they can never learn more. :D

Lost Wanderer said...

Great post. I read both those posts that you mentioned, though I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about them right now, simply because I don't want to start worrying about any problems my NaNo story might have.

That's why I am focusing only on writing (and yes word count), because I have already outlined the plot, so there is nothing to do for progress but carry on, finish it, and then worry about everything else.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Thanks for the leads on both these posts. I’m certainly not an expert and either and, if past form holds, have violated every rule and technique associated with both. HA! That’s one reason we have the delete key, right? Oh, by the way, care to guess the name of my main character in my WIP? Yep, Trevor. Newspaper report with a drinking problem…oh, he’s also a womanizer.
Best Regards, Galen

Imagineering Fiction Blog