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Monday, May 5, 2008

Torturing Characters, Students, and Prose

I finally finished chapter 14, a week later than I'd hoped. 26 intense days of work left before vacation, and I hope I can juggle both my day job and my writing and not fall any further off the pace. I know I'll be able to write faster once I'm on vacation, but I don't want to count on that.

I know part of why this chapter was hard to write was my work demands. Every week from here on out has at least one big task that I must accomplish. Formal observation tomorrow, write finals by Friday, finalize Professional Development Plan by the end of the next week, then grade senior exams, and then everyone else's finals. And, of course, the usual stuff. But I think this chapter may also have been intrinsically hard to write . . . it might not be all about the day job.

This chapter, I took Chris, my protagonist, out of a setting that was tense because of what he was bringing to it, but, in many ways, idyllic. Idyll is not the stuff of good stories, so he had to go. But it was hard, you know? I really like the characters he was spending time with, and don't like the characters he's with now--as people, that is. The conflict is getting ratcheted up as I head for the ending. Hopefully now that the transition is done, it will get easier.

I've been giving thought to where I can cut. I think the bad guy that sets the plot in motion needs to appear earlier . . . like about five to seven thousand words earlier. I'm pretty sure I can spare the wordage, so I'm looking to cut stuff. (I suppose I could also move some stuff that comes before this point to after it, though.) I think I see where the cuts can come. I'm also finding that the later chapters are getting shorter, which I think, at this point, is a good thing. To me it suggests that the pace is picking up, which it should at this point. I don't think I need to worry about my novel being too short at this point.

I spent several hours last night waxing the cat by thinking about a story concept for Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas's new horror anthology. I'm desperately trying to finish this novel by August, so what the heck am I doing thinking about other stories, but an open call for submissions for an anthology like this seems like a golden opportunity. And I have an idea I think may be unique. Do I have the horror chops to pull it off, though? Therein lies the question . . .

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