Sunday, February 13

A first novel: Challenges

There were some struggles in writing my five thousand words in the last week of January, as discussed here. I stand by that week as the most difficult to write, but this coming week could pose a significant challenge to that title, for whatever its worth. The challenges are different. In January it was a problem of inspiration. This week it is a challenge of technique and craft.

The progression of the story has been pretty simple so far. Something happens, and the characters respond to it. There is cause, and there is effect. While I have not adhered to Aristotle's unity of time, only about six weeks have passed in the pages. That is not very much. Though not every minute of every day is explored, you know what the characters are doing. They always have an immediate goal or destination driving them, but things are changing. Now they have spent some three weeks in their tribal homelands. They have overcome the earliest and most significant obstacles to life there and are beginning to settle into it. Things must slow down as the characters find their rhythms. There are another two years to fill before they leave. Things still happen and theere is still cause and effect, but it is distant. The relation between events is neither immediate nor clear.

I don't know how to write that. I don't know how to set a timeline in motion and then slip in, picking and presenting the noteworthy moments. My short stories are tight and unified in time. There is no summary of years or even months because the story is in a day, a morning, a single conversation. I've never tried anything like this before.

For the time being, I wrote out a list of the things that need to happen for the story to move forward. I wrote a second list of things that could happen and opportunities for characters to distinguish themselves. Not that all this helps me the act of writing these things, but it does provide some framework and guidance. We'll see how it goes.

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? Forty-seven.
Words? Thirty-four thousand and eighty-three.
Named characters? Twenty-eight.

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