Getting Back to the Beginning

Currently Reading: The Tale of Genji (Volume 1) by Murasaki Shikibu

Current Writing Project: Outlining, Questioning, Back to the Characters of Her Testament to Life

My NaNo 2008 has been causing me endless problems. When I first edited, the manuscript went from 60,000 words to 30,000 words. I never realized how much dribble I put in there until I started cutting it out. West Wing rants, talks about whether Kiwis really like being called Kiwis and if was really just a British attempt at making fun of those from New Zealand. Seriously, some days during that month I just wrote dribble.

It is my goal for that manuscript to see a literary agent before the year ends. 220 days left, according to the newspaper. I know I've mentioned it before, but a young adult novel should be about 65,000 words. And that's where my problem came.

I needed to add 35,000 words that wasn't drabble. I tried thinking of scenes but that wasn't linear and they ended up in a file named "Additions" that just sat and sat.

So I reached out to the friendly people at WriYe. I started asking questions - how do you define a scene? How do you make a proper timeline? Is a timeline a substitution for a plot outline? How in-depth do your character sketches need to be? Is it important to know things like if your Main Character (MC) likes oranges or is it more important to know they can't stand the sound of chewig?

As I got answers I realized that being a pantser (working without an outline) may work for my History Day papers and other school papers but it's not going to work with my novel.

And now, I've got to get back to the beginning. I need to re-examine what I have written, what questions are in my mind when reading it so I can answer them. I need to relearn every little detail about my characters so that when I'm writing about them, it's like they are an extension of myself, not something my mind is making up on the spot. In the end, I think it will make the book more consistant.

Here's to getting back to the beginning, almost like I had never written the novel before.

When you have to add significant wordage and don't know where or what needs to be added, what do you do?

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Brittany said...

Yay for revisions! I'm working on them, too. I think I'll probably go up wordcount-wise because I didn't really finish the book when I started revising, so I have a lot of scenes to add.

I say add a twist or a character. During NaNo 2009, about halfway through, I started to get anxious that I wouldn't have enough scenes to get to 50k. I read this article about contagonists:

I added about 5 scenes and a lot of words just by adding a contagonist to my story. If a contagonist wouldn't fit in your story, try adding another setback to your character's goal or expanding an element of conflict. Good luck!

The Dreamer of Dreams said...

Unfortunately, when there is a need for me to add to an already finished piece, or even just to move on from a stuck point in the narration, I tend to stare at the computer for a while before I just decide on an idea.

I've never been one to plan out a lot of things. Even the edits that I did on my novel were not because of a plan. I simply read through the story and found places where I could add "more" and made a note to add something at a later time.

As it stands now, I have really only added two new sections that offer a little more backstory to the main character. We'll see if that's enough.

Good luck.

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