Friday, April 10, 2009

Back in the Moment

Whew. It's been a while since I could update this, but it being spring time, all kinds of stuff is going on. We spent a week in South Carolina, I've been racing against a deadline for a HUGE writing project, and the kids are out of school. Sometimes whole days seem to flash by, and when I look back at the end of it all, it seems like I lived four or five days, all packed into one 24-hour period. Things that were relevant and crucial 48 hours ago are forgotten quickly, and we're already working on the next ten minutes, next 24 hours, next week. 

(As a pleasant aside, though, my freezer is taking on a decidedly wonderful quality. We brought back a cooler full of Low Country shrimp, and I found a killer deal on baby back ribs, so the freezer is already partying like it's July.)

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I'm making steady progress on the new book. I've got about 40 pages of text so far, and it's feeling solid. It's darker than I expected. Closer than I thought it would be. And I'm not sure if it's better or worse or just in process.

But I've spent a lot of time thinking about parallels between the velocity of life and the velocity of this manuscript. This time, I've been forcing myself to go slow. I'm spending a lot of time between scenes thinking about the very next scene and reworking the plot if it doesn't feel right. This is kind of a new thing for me -- I'm usually a pace writer. I can't wait to get to the next part, to the next good bit, so things fly along. I've heard over and over that pacing is a strength of mine. 

I'm beginning to see, though, that there is a natural tension between pacing a book versus developing the emotional lives of characters. For me at least, it's important to slow down and allow my characters time to process what's happening to them. Even if it's just a few paragraphs, they need to reflect on and absorb the events. So instead of moving at lightning speed from one fantastic event to another, I'm dwelling in each moment and taking the time to experience the story in all its fullness.

Now if I could only do that in real life :)


Mark Terry said...

Interesting, because that's how I feel about the SF novel I'm working on. I know that it's going slow because it's the first time I've worked on SF, but it's slower writing because I'm less focused on the plot and more focused on setting, culture and the emotional lives of the characters, particularly the POV character, Con Torres, who tends to be a little bit distant--I have to work harder on making him take emotional hits.

Melanie Avila said...

I really like this post. I'm on the fourth draft of my wip but writing a new subplot, so really I'm on the first draft for that portion. I find I'm putting a lot more thought into these new chapters than I did at the beginning stage of the MS, and I hope that means I'll have less reworking to do on subsequent drafts.