fuel

Ack! I’ve not posted in over a month! I’ve not been idle though:

I’m still sticking to my habit of cranking out at least ~200 words a day. Even if it’s another version of a scene or nothing to do with the book I’ve kept this up (except during travel: writing on the go is the next thing to figure out).

Unfortunately I’ve come to a point that I’m rehashing the same material which is not only boring but isn’t moving the book forward.

I’m finding that once I’m in a rut it’s best to stop writing and start reading. Research is preferable but fiction is good too – really, anything that shakes up the brain pan.

The research is, as ever, essential because it provides not only more information but new ideas. For example, one name I pulled out of the source material and used as a placeholder for a minor character turns out to have been a spy with ruthless methods and uncertain motive. Using this discovery makes this character both more interesting and better rounded, which in turn makes his interactions with my protagonist both more layered and easier to write.

Fiction introduces rhythm of prose and familiar words used in new ways (I’ve always been a reader, but I’m finding that my work uses an embarrassingly small vocabulary). Descriptions are also helpful, because for all I can see scenes “in my head” they never turn out on the page the way I envision, so it’s good to see how others do it.

So, still always the student.

In the new year I’m going to have my first writing group critique, so I’m spending some time hammering that out into something I’m confident sharing. Keep you posted.

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it’s too much

I’ve been having one of those weeks with the writing.

It’s been a struggle to cough up more than a couple hundred words a day, not because inspiration is lacking but because I can’t complete a thought without having to put in placeholders for something I haven’t researched yet:

…the large table in the center of the room. It groaned with food, [what kind? how much?]

or

He shifted to and fro in an attempt to keep his blood flowing. “Besides it’s cold as [16th c. equivalent of “a witch’s tit”]-“

or

Approaching the throne, Jane dropped a low curtsey [how does one correctly greet the Queen?]

And so forth. These pauses not only derail my thinking but illustrate the gaps in my knowledge that I need to place the story in a concrete-feeling time and place. This doesn’t include the list of general questions I need to answer before I know if some of my plot points are even possible.

Currently I have over 80 sources but it still doesn’t seem like enough; my fear of anachronism looms large but I don’t want to put off my narrative ideas until the research is complete (opinions on how much research to do pre-writing differ).

Even so, this often feels like too big of a project to face, as though there are too many details and dependencies to get my head around to do the story justice, and the temptation to just quit is great. But that’s not how books get written so I press on, trying to break it into manageable pieces and keeping my […] in to address in the next draft.

I’m also giving Scrivener a whirl to try to impose some order on this beast. Currently the book is in a series of Word files in a single folder on my desktop, none titled clearly enough to know their content or sequence. Hopefully this will also help with the dreaded outlining.