Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Château Soleil Update 13: Unexpected Challenges And Rewards

Current word count: 130,927
Chapters done: 39/52
Projected length: 174,570 words

So, I wanted to talk a little bit about the unanticipated challenges of working on a story that is this length. It turns out that later chapters are harder than earlier ones, for not-obvious reasons. And that biggest challenge has been in finding the entry point into a chapter. From my outline I know what what major plot beats have to happen and whose eyes we're looking through, but that still gives me a lot of leeway. And it has to start somewhere. In earlier chapters, it was easy enough to just start where the last one left off. But my characters are more spread out now and their chapters aren't necessarily chronological. So finding that starting point means finding the arc of the chapter and working backwards, rather than starting at a fixed chronological point and discovering the arc as it moves forward.

Now I don't want to sound like I'm griping. Because unexpected challenges are coupled with unexpected rewards. For instance, I just wrote a fight-to-the-death scene that wasn't in my outline at all. My POVs were going to discover the body a few chapters later, but I ended up getting certain characters together for dramatic purposes and it made sense to make the death happen during the scene. Having made that decision, I was able to invoke a parallel to an earlier chapter with the same POV character, and to have her make a different choice this time, while also drawing on some of her backstory. It also meant that the plot mechanism doesn't dominate the chapter. For my outline, I had a pretty tiny bit of information she needed that will be very important later. It's the whole reason she's there, but it's not what the chapter is about anymore. So it's a lot of work to gather up plot threads instead of laying them out, but that's also a big part of the fun of a larger work (I say "larger" like this will end up being longer than your average Michael Crichton novel--but humor me here people). It's pretty joyous when a lot of elements come together after you've spend tens of thousands of words setting them up.

And hey, I'm officially 3/4 of the way through my outline. If I keep going at this pace... you know, I'm not even going to try to guess because I'm horrible at it. I honestly thought I'd have this whole thing done in January.

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