Happiness Is Beginning To Ride From The Streets Into Paradise Skies

So I’ve been trying for the last week or two to get the second chapter of Passage To Bujah: Departure written. I’ve written almost a full chapter’s worth of alternate takes that either were too dry or too revealing, and while I like the fact that I wrote them–they helped me get some information sorted out–nevertheless, I’m a little concerned, because if this proves to be the norm for this trilogy, I’m going to be writing it all year, and that definitely is NOT the plan. I’m willing to take the time to get it right, but I dearly hope that it doesn’t require rewriting every chapter, the way it has so far for the first two chapters. I only had one rewrite of the first chapter, and it was after a brief misstep in the beginning, so it wasn’t a serious diversion. Lost a few hundred words. No biggie.

But the second chapter is on its fourth attempt, and it’s still not done. It could still lose its way. I’m hoping it won’t, but so much of this book feels like it’s out of my control. It’s like it’s meant to be written by a completely different writer, and I’m stealing it from them to make it my own.

For the record, I did not steal this story. I’ve come to suspect that it’s necessary sometimes to make these things clear, even though none of my close friends has ever said any such thing to me. I AM getting a few new blog readers who may not know my work, such as it is, and aren’t aware that I sometimes resort to hyperbole to explain the process I go through to create. So yeah, this is entirely mine.

However, it doesn’t FEEL like it’s mine, and I’m having to use completely different tools to make it happen. I still haven’t gotten used to the actual style of the book. The rhythm is coming to me, but the voices only come to life for me in dialogue, because, in the prose sections, my own narrative voice feels stifled a bit by the metric rules I’ve put in place to control my run-on tendencies. Each paragraph, as previously mentioned, is no more than approximately fifty words long, and while I can elaborate a little on the previous paragraph, I can’t drag it out for more than a couple of lines; each paragraph has to say something completely new.

Here’s an example:

Being a twin wasn’t very common these days. In fact, Stefani didn’t know any other twin siblings anywhere. She’d heard there was another set of triplets in the Europan District, and that there were even a set of quintuplets in the Asiatic District. But she didn’t know if it was true.

There were a lot of explanations, mostly outrageous and spiteful rumors passed around by Genies, to explain why twins were no longer common. Stefani’s least favorite was that twins shared a conscience, and couldn’t function alone. She knew it wasn’t true, but it worried her.

She’d been leery of Genies most of her life. These were the supposedly genetically-pure sons and daughters of the most successful families in the Post-Collapse world, who could afford to have their children privately prepared, rather than through state means.

Stefani knew they didn’t call themselves Genies; that’s just what everyone else called them. But some wore the title with pride. Stefani had known a few like that, and none of them had been kind to her, except Pan, who had been special in every way. Stefani missed her very much.

As you can see, it’s very tight. It’s a little bit like writing a series of separate-but-related status updates for Twitter (which is a very hard thing to do, even all these months later).

So there’s quite a bit of compression and dilation going on. I’m not too concerned with how fast the prose narration goes by, so long as everything makes sense and doesn’t feel too cluttered. I guess the one thing I’m worried about is that the tightness and brevity might make the story feel like a reading primer, like a Dick and Jane book. I’m definitely not attempting to piss anyone off. I just want to make sure I don’t overwrite and bury my characters in exposition.

Richard’s novels are notoriously internalized and meandering. So much of what happens in a Richard Burley story happens in his head, even when something is actually happening to or around him. His internal landscape is where much of the real drama unfolds.

My other novels, the Euroboros stuff and the Carcieri stuff, all have their own rhythms, and don’t dwell too much on what can’t be demonstrated in front of the camera. They do sometimes ramble on a bit though, when I get on a diversion, which I love about my writing. I like telling stories within stories, like Russian matryoshka dolls. I love suggesting more story than there is time to tell, to send the reader off on a little micro-trip, wondering what that story had to do with this one, and if I will revisit it later. I think it defines me as a writer.

In Departure, I’m trying to consciously avoid all of those device as much as possible. Internal monologue is permitted, but it’s brief. It’s like thought balloons in modern comics. Most of the work of showing thought process in good modern comics is done in carefully-sculpted dialogue lines. The attitude conveyed in a few words has to deliver everything that a big five-to-seven line balloon and a four line caption used to do, regardless of how specific and telling the art was. These days, the art and the dialogue do all the heavy lifting. That’s the effect I’m trying to create in Departure.

Not that I’m writing this like a comic book adaptation. It’s still a novel. It’s just written with tight pacing in mind, which is something I rarely pay so much attention to when I’m writing novels. Each chapter is like a short story, and each paragraph is a complete thought that takes a deliberate step toward telling that short story. That seems like common sense, but I assure you, it’s more pertinent to how I’m handling this book than anything I’ve written before, including last November’s NaNoWriMo novel, which accidentally became the (so far) unfinished Richard Burley novel, The Approximate Distance To Limbo.

But anyway, the point I was trying to make is that, while I’m getting there, I haven’t quite gotten the hang of this new novel and its mechanics yet. Very interesting learning curve, though I won’t be happy until the prose feels more natural and flows better. It’s functional and perfunctory to me at present, and I’d really like it to come to life before I get the first draft done,so I’ll know what the flavour is by the time I get to the official second draft. If I do my job right the first time, a second draft won’t be needed, save for some of the first few chapters.

Time to find something to eat and make some tea. Or perhaps a nap. Yeah, I think a nap is in order. I seem to be crashing.

Here’s a little taste of what I was trying to do when I got waylaid by other stuff that has kept me from continuing this project in a timely fashion:
VFMD 2016 05 09a

VFMD 2016 05 09b

Thank you for reading.


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