Work-in-Progress: The Novel That Insisted

I’m finally writing the science-fiction novel that’s been bugging me for a year and a half. It just wouldn’t leave me alone. So finally, I said, “Fine, come over here. Let’s do this.”

I always enjoy writing, but one element that has particularly drawn me in this time has been the characters themselves. They are constantly doing and saying things that engage me. Every day, I can’t wait to dive back in and explore how these characters are going to confront the next scene.

There’s more comedy here than I’ve seen in my adult fiction before. Perhaps, this is a by-product of the children’s literature I’ve been writing. But I know it’s a good thing. I’ve been looking for ways to get more humor into my work, and now, it’s just emerging naturally.

Obviously, it will be a long while before I can share any of this story with the larger world, publishing being what it is. But I can’t wait. At the very least, I need to get this in front of beta readers soon in the coming months.

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When to Workshop Your Novel

When your internal monologue stops talking, you may feel free to show your novel to a friend, or a fiction-writing group, or a workshop. But not before. That internal monologue is a sign that your subconscious is still working out the story. If you show someone else  your work-in-progress while your inner story machine is still cranking, you’re dooming your work. Because, as insightful and as clever as your friend may be, they cannot share your vision. It’s your vision — born of subconscious needs that you most likely don’t understand, or at the most have a small inkling of. That’s what makes it your story. And when your friend finds a problem, and she will, she’s going to help you solve it with her vision. And now you’re off on a tangent that you can never cleanse. Someone else’s vision has now wormed it’s way into your story. It’s tainted. Out of whack. Doomed.

Curse or blessing, my internal monologue never stops anymore. It always has more to say, more, more….

In the Beginning: Finding the Flow

So, I’d been jotting down notes on the new steampunk novel for some time now: world notes, character notes, plot notes, etc. All in one long, jumbled document. The process was feeling rather grand. But there came a point when I begin to wonder among the growing complexities, how was this all fitting together? At this point, I had about 15,000 words, all notes, completely disorganized.

I decided that I needed a tangible way of dealing with organizing the mess. I remember reaching this point with the last novel. Then, I reacted by sticking post-it notes all over the closet door. This time though, I printed out all of my notes and cut them up, sorted them all out on the dining room table, adding notes as they occurred to me and taping the whole thing together in a long strip. It was something of a painstaking process, but gloriously rewarding. I’m starting to find that, when searching for the right story flow, there’s a lot to be said for a) working with your hands and b) working it out on a big surface (instead of that tiny computer screen we stare out for too many hours a day).

What I would like to have honestly is a wall-sized touch computer screen that I can grab little notes and slide them around, make connections, write new notes, etc. (Guess what, when I’m the next Kurt Vonnegut, that’s exactly what I’ll have.)

Final Editing Phase for the Novel

I just finished with all editing notes. It took me about six months. Wow. (Many, many notes were added during the process.) The final phase is the language edit. I will soon go through and ensure all the language is polished and interesting. I have a really good feeling about the book right now. I could probably start shopping it around, but I want to make double sure everything is perfect.