Time for a new weekly writer’s roundup of my works-in-progress and those ready to read!
It’s been an eventful week. On Thursday I received the critique feedback on the first draft of Cretaceous Queen and started working with them. By about midnight, I had a second draft and sent it over to Madicienne and had ended up dividing the novelette into five chapters: “Extinction Event”, “Urruatta”, “Last Best Hope”, “Countdown” and “Overtime”.
Friday kicked-off a four day weekend. Writing-wise, Friday was a washout as the day was jam-packed with long delayed errands and appointments:
This included my first visit with my doctor in over a year since I lost and then regained health insurance. She gave me a physical and the works, including my 10 year TDAP booster shot. I’d regret this shortly.
To be clear, my wife and I had planned the long weekend with vacation time specifically to paint our back porch, not for me to have a double weekend to write with. But the weather shifted, and alas it rained:
Okay, maybe I was a little like this kid at the same time:
Yeah. So… bummer. But hey, more time to write, right? ;-)
Well, by early Saturday morning I also wasn’t feeling that great. Aches, pains and fatigue like I was coming down with the flu. In truth it wasn’t the flu, I was having an allergic reaction to the vaccination.
I soldiered through pretty well that first day. I’d had an old story idea return from a few years ago and it got stuck repeating itself in my head for days thanks to a writing prompt Bryan Aiello had shared on Wednesday. I decided to excise it as a few hundred word warm-up piece of flash-fiction before I got to work on the novel. Instead, I spent the day writing a new 1,600 word short story I’ve titled Far from Acheron. It’s now in a second draft and soon will be in its third.
I went to bed feeling worse, and a restless night brought me to a Sunday where I felt truly awful. My allergic reaction had become moderately severe, with cold sweats, shakes, chills, and tingling numbness in my fingers and toes added to everything from the prior day.
Not an ideal way to feel getting back into the novel in general, and more-so with the difficult time I’m having with this chapter in particular. But even if I could only half-feel my shaking fingers, I could still hit keys with them. It was time to just keep swimming writing.
Although it was far from a stellar day’s work on Vivian’s Last Cigarette, I added a thousand words I wouldn’t have otherwise.
By Monday morning, my condition had improved to something slightly better than how I’d felt Saturday. I spent the last day of my vacation working and reworking that tricky new chapter six. Writing-wise, the chapter grew by another thousand words. But more importantly, I think I finally figured out a bunch of the plot snarls that have been hindering me with this part of the book.
Chapter six has been a very complicated affair to write. It starts with a tense foot chase that pushes forward with several peaks and valleys. At the height of its last peak, a door is literally slammed in the face of the bad-guys as my intrepid orc protagonists escape into the sanctuary of the Magic Moo-Shroom Metaphysical Shop.
It’s a super abrupt change in pace. Inside the shop Viv and Gronk have finally attained some safety, but the threat of the antagonists remain: Although they are reluctant to enter the building, they still have the orcs trapped inside. Keeping that threat warm and tangible while introducing the new allies the protagonists meet in the Moo-Shroom –as well as introducing the character of the shop itself– has been a tough juggling act.
It’s like a wide valley in the action, because after some introductions and formulated plans, Viv and Gronk attempt to sneak out of the besieged shop. This results in a madcap and final round of action where little turns out as anyone had planned. But our orcy duo do, at last, fully escape their pursuers in the end.
Yes, that is a lot going on in one chapter: A huge chase through several new locations with lots of action that expands on several new antagonists introduced in the prior chapter… Then a total shift in scene… Then two entirely new characters and an eccentric setting are introduced… And then after that there’s a round of comedic action before a final escape.
It’s all… a lot to digest in a single chapter, isn’t it? ;-)
I’ll also relay that I intended this chapter to be the one where I join the book’s completely revised and expanded opening to the rest of the pre-existing novel. So there was that on my mind as well.
I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to think of a way to cover all this ground in this single chapter for weeks between other projects. But on Sunday, I let go of the idea that six would be the “last new chapter” that I’d stubbornly held onto for so long. By doing that I can reconcile the narrative shift after the initial action of the chase by simply starting a new chapter at the point where the protagonists enter the Metaphysical Shop.
That transforms the “wide valley” of the original take into the “starting plain” of a new chapter. From that level beginning, I can then ramp up the action leading to the mini-climax of this arc of the story. It’s a more standard means to reach this end, and I think it’ll be better all the way around.
The initial chase portion of the chapter runs just shy of 3,500 words, a length comparable to many of the novel’s other chapters. So that’s a good fit. It also takes me from being at an awkward point of a potentially very long sixth chapter, to having a completed first draft of the sixth chapter and 1,500 words into a new chapter seven. :-)
This has been a very rough patch of water, and I’m sure all writers hit them with their books. But you just have to keep swimming…
Alright, time for me to stop blogging and get back to writing some more fiction! Take care!
Good on you for sticking with it while ill. Not easy to do.
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Thanks Ben. :-) And you’re right: it isn’t easy. It’s really frustrating when you know you’re just limping along and it doesn’t feel like you’ll ever get anywhere… but every step forward counts.
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Talk about “bad medicine.”
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I usually get a small reaction, but nothing like this time around. However, not getting whooping cough and passing it along to my asthmatic wife where it could put her in the hospital or worse makes it worth it.