Writing Update: 5/28/11 – Freewrites, Storylines, Proportion

I finished the next chapter of my outline, which turned into three chapters. Hurray for making progress. However, I’m going to need to make more time on a weekly basis if I’m going to meet my goal.

I’ve kept stats over the last four novels. My average is 500 words per hour during the drafting stage. That includes revising and doing quick researches etc. So sometimes I will write a smoking (for me) 800 or 900 words per hour. Sometimes I won’t finish a thing. When I’m all done it averages out to 500 words. I’m going to see if I can’t get 20 hours this next week and finish 10,000 words. 

Addition to last week’s post

 Do you remember last week’s post about the process of making it come alive in my mind first? Orson Card illustrates this as he describes how he prepared to write a story in his essay “How One Story Can Give Birth to Another“.

Spideysense, farmer’s faith, and freewrites

Last week when writing chapter 7, I finished, but felt something was off.  Years ago I would have freaked about writer’s block.  I would have told myself I sucked because the chapter was glucky. But not now.  It’s a gift.  So I stopped and talked to myself in a freewrite.  I had farmers faith that if I just kept working on it, something good would result. 

Here’s what I wrote in that freewrite. It’s an awful read for you, but it shows you just how sloppy and cryptic and freewheeling my freewrites are.

Okay, so I’ve written the stuff below and I could tweak it, I guess. But I keep having this nagging feeling that it’s not good. It’s not a compelling villain. I think he’s creepy and evil. And, truth be told, I don’t want to make him into something other than what he is—a total thrall to the Glory and the mother. So as the “pet” of the mother, what else could he be called? I don’t know.

I shall call you endless because you will be spared, you shall continue, whereas the rest will not. Blessing. Blessed. Grateful. What would you call a thing that did you bidding reliably? But enthralled. I am part of you, you are part of me, and so you may take my name.

He WOULD think—I am not like them. I am GRACED by the Mother’s touch. I have taken her into myself. Or she has graced me and so I have become more than I would be otherwise. I am obedient.

What else do you call pets or tools. Maybe that’s what she calls him. My skir master. The skir lord. My trowel. Harvester.

He’s over the harvest. Reaper. Or he’s the one that supplies food. Supplier. Gatherer. Cook. Chef. Hunter. Provider. Butcher. Slaughter.

So I like Endless with the whole part of him being part of her. But he could use that—”you’re just like us” “no, we are part of the XXX (what was the name I had for them?) endless. You are meat”

Devourers, Mothers, Sublimes

Okay, so do I go with Endless or Harvest Hope. Endless it odd, neat. What could I add to Harvest to do the same. Harvest Lord, King, Overseer, Meatman, Food provider, Feeder, Harvester, Harvest, Rancher, Collector, The Harvester. Harvest.

I think when you’re raised, you get a new name.


Soul collector.

The Shepherd.

Harvest Prime

Bald Head






The issue was that his motive wasn’t working.  I had a feel for what I wanted him to be, and my Spideysense was telling me it wasn’t working, wasn’t interesting.  Thomas McCormack in his book calls this feeling for what you want in your story a “prelibation”.  What an odd term.  But it’s real. 

“Prelibation.  The desire for a certain effect on the reader.  It may or may not be followed instantly by an intuition of what item of narrative will cause that effect, and it’s important to see that intuition and the prelibation it is trying to serve are not the same thing. The intuiting of the narrative that will produce the effect-wanted is the work of the imagination” (p153 The Fiction Editor, The Novel, and the Novelist)

There’s more in his book. I recommend it highly. So, after that freewrite, I didn’t have a solution, but I’d pinpointed the issue, the prelibation. I took a break with kids into the big city. Came back and had my solution for a narrative that would do the trick.  Luckily, it was something I’d cut out of the outline. Back it went with some significant tweaks and was better than before.

Storylines & the Size of this Presentation Phase

For those who have read my series on suspense, at this point, the presentation of the problem for the main story and many of my sub-stories is complete.  Depending on how you categorize them, I have nine to eleven story lines (which makes it impossible to write this book in 100k words).  There’s one main story line that touches everyone—the Mokaddian threat.  Then there are other questions and issues I raise that set the reader up with the expectation for a resolution.

  1. Talen
    1. Mokad/Nashrud (external threat)
    2. Lusts (internal threat, mystery)
    3. Sugar (relationship)
  2. Legs: Vulnerability
  3. Sugar
    1. Talen (relationship)
    2. Urban (relationship)
    3. Ancestors (relationship, mystery)
    4. Mokad (external threat)
  4. Argoth
    1. Mokad (external threat)
    2. Nettle (relationship)
    3. Bone Faces (external threat)
  5. Eresh
    1. Flax (conflict relationship)
    2. The Creek Widow (relationship)

So most of these story lines have been presented, although not all. It took about 30,000 words to finish the presentation phase. I’m estimating 170,000 words, so that a presentation phase of roughly 18%.

There are a lot of story lines and characters to juggle. Sometimes I kick myself for having so many. Of course, I love them, despite the challenge they present. Nevertheless, I AM looking forward to writing that thriller with a limited cast.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.