Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The upside of a random draft

The page count on my don't-look-down-draft of the governess story is 189, and I mean to see 200 before the day is out.  I'm smug in the knowledge that this is TNR 12 pt font, too, which means I have even more if you do standard manuscript formatting. Of course, it's all utter crap. Don't go thinking, either, that this is a sort of bashful trivializing.  It really is pretty much crap, by and large.  If I can't figure out where to start a scene or don't know why the scene is supposed to be there yet, I meander through sitting and thinking or describe the setting ad nauseum or just leap in at the first line of dialog.   I think about half the scenes have discerible beats at all, and most don't have any resolution but run out of steam as I do.  There is a huge temptation here to feel like I'm in deep shit, that the muses have left the building yet again. I've decided though, that this is better than the way I did this on the last story.  All my life until now I have plowed relentlessly from beginning to end of a draft, letting it morph along the way, then went back and started at the beginning and combed it out again and again, occasionally dropping it all to start over.  I pushed until each scene was as done as I could make it, as polished as possible.  It mostly worked for the last draft, but I still remember what a bitch that was and I admit part of what keeps blocking me is the thought of living in the Groundhog Day Draft again. I think this splatter-paint version of getting out a draft might be really good.  Occasionally a scene will grab me by the throat and I go lay it out, and it's not at all honed, usually, but it becomes a sort of tent pole for that section of the story.  I have this sucker plotted out in five acts and I've got scenes in every act.  I'm plodding chrologically as much as I can, but I've noticed I have tended to hit the bit turning points first, then the minor ones after, and as I examine the outline I'm already cutting/combining scenes.  And what's happening is more and more is that the story is taking shape slowly, looking sharper in some spots than others.  It's reminding me a bit of how I would imagine scuplting something, actually.  Like something would start out blobby and slowly gain form and detail.  Maybe the face would come out fast, but the shoulders would be hulky and rough for a long time.  The thing I most like about this method, however, is that no matter how cranky or not in the mood to write I am, I can hustle out a scene.  I've already written one scene this morning and polished up another two, tacking on a little more detail.  I feel like I could quit for the day with only mild guilt.  But it's only 7:30, and I have all of Anna's preschool to get more done.  Plus the afternoon while she's watching a show.  Plus maybe a nip or two this evening.  Basically, if it's okay to write utter crap and shape it up later, I could get four or five scenes in today.  If I made myself polish the heck out of the one I was working on, I think I'd be lucky to get one done and I'd probably still be dissatisfied. Of course, time will tell if this helps me later when I have to revise everything.  But once again, there are blessings in being unpublished and not racing to change this fact.  Nobody's pressing on me but me.


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