Sunday, March 6

A first novel: Pre-writing

Those who follow this blog through an RSS feed or regular visits to the site missed an insightful comment to my last Sunday post regarding this novel. My best man pointed out on Facebook that these last few posts make it sound as though I'm still pre-writing, putting down all my thoughts on character and plot and setting and refining and organizing them rather than really writing this novel even though I am more than sixty pages in.

He's right. It may be more traditional to write extensive timelines and character descriptions, but this works for me. I had some vague ideas of the characters and their settings and plot just went at it. I test them out and get a sense of what is most right and what I want to continue with.

The worry that kept me from writing detailed notes was that once I began writing, I would discover I was not actually interested in these wind-ups I had created once they were set free and I would have to rewrite significant pieces. To some extent, this has already borne out. One of my early interests in this novel was treating is as some sort of redemption for bad movies. The protagonist loves film, but seeing as how he lives in Kenya and is entirely without access to any film but those with the broadest appeal, he only sees the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and other men who have since become punchlines. The working title, The Subber, is a reflection of this as the protagonist begins to write subtitles to these and other movies. That theme is still present but much reduced as my interest has moved toward more fundamental themes like storytelling.

Maybe I would have realized this earlier or found ways to stay more excited about bad movies with different pre-writing techniques, but I'm content with this. Beside when I better understand what this novel is about and who its characters are, the actual writing will be much less intimidating when there are already some hundred pages of foundation to build from.

Single-spaced pages with one-inch margins? Sixty-six.
Words? Forty-nine thousand and eighty-one.
Named characters? Thirty-one.

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