Getting Ahead Of Myself; or, What Happens When A Story Really Comes To Life

(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)


(Brought to you by the “Better Late Than Never” department, since turkey coma took over my brain last night…)

Well, my NaNoWriMo project is currently sitting at roughly 61,000 words, and I’m not quite halfway into the story. Which means that this one, like last year’s, is probably going to run a lot longer than it should.

I’m not terribly worried about it at this point, because I can already see lots of places where the story can be trimmed and condensed. There’s a lot of what I’ve seen referred to as “tea drinking” in it. By that, I mean the stretches of story where the characters are drinking tea, and we get the excruciating details of how each takes his/her tea, and how many times they stir it, and how many sips they take of it, and so on. While a certain amount of that is necessary to help flesh out a story’s world, too much of it can really bog down a narrative. So that’s something I’m definitely going to keep in mind come the editing phase.

The story is also set in the Victorian era, so a lot of the descriptions and conversations are far more wordy than they really need to be. But my goal for this draft is to get down all of the images and nuances that are essential to how I want to tell the story; I can go back later and pare out a lot of the excess verbiage while still (hopefully) keeping in the flavor of the era.

I can see that there’s a lot of repetition in it, too. There are three separate places, for instance, where my MC’s father thinks about or discusses her relationship with The Love Interest. I’m pretty sure I can lose at least one of them, and I can shorten up one or both of the others (though frankly, I’m very pleased with the scene where The Father confronts The Love Interest directly and don’t want to pare it down too much).

Finally, I can look back at what I’ve written so far and identify a lot of stuff that is really part of the backstory/worldbuilding phase that I, as the author, need to know about, but that you, as the reader, really don’t, or at least not in quite so much detail. I can trim that out pretty easily, I think, and it will make for a better story that way.

But what pleases me most of all is that this story finally seems to have found its voice. (I know, a mere 60K words in!) The characters are beginning to come alive for me at last, and the tone is finally starting to even out. I have a fair idea of the arc for the rest of this book. I know where I want to go, and I mostly know how I want to get there. There are still a few fuzzy plot patches, but that’s really not a bad thing. Discovering what goes in them will help keep the project fresh and alive for me.

That’s not the problem.

The problem is that, in the shower* yesterday morning, I got a very clear vision of where the rest of this trilogy (yes, trilogy) is headed. In particular, a number of the plot points for Book Three have become clear to me, and one scene in particular presented itself to me almost fully-formed.

Now I’m in a quandary. I really don’t want to lose momentum on my current story, but on the other hand, I want to make sure to capture these ideas while they are still fresh in my head. I’m not sure how to handle this, though at the moment I’m leaning toward making Book Three wait until December 1, at least. Then I’ll take a day or two to jot down outlines and notes for what I want to make sure to do when I get there before I go back and finish the current story.

How do other people handle it when a story wants to run away with you? Do you run off after the plot bunnies, or do you make them wait their turns?

* Have I mentioned that many of my best story ideas come to me in the shower? Why is that, I wonder?


About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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