This post is approximately 600 words.
Last night, the clock on my computer screen read 11:48 pm. Including the last two hours, I’d spent six or seven hours yesterday working on Chapter 14, a 4000-word section which in hindsight, should have had a working title of “The Long Walking Chapter Full Of Exposition”.
I required this chapter to do a lot of heavy lifting for the story: the one being told in the current book, but also in the greater overall tale I wanted to tell throughout the series.
My characters began to understand that there was more going on than a simple adventure story filled with monsters. Additionally, readers needed to know that our heroes had just one choice for sanctuary, but the destination might be only slightly less perilous than the wilderness. I had backstory about the place and needed a thorough-enough depiction so I wouldn’t have to keep describing it (I’d rather establish a scene early and as we go on, allow readers to recall as little or as much detail as they wanted to enjoy the story). We also meet two secondary characters and a few tertiary ones.
Oh yeah, and I needed to continue the character development of my three heroes. Whew.
But at nearly midnight, I had reached the end. My characters had arrived, and having walked through the lands of their new setting, they were suitably impressed and on-guard. As I typed, my eyes traveled down the screen to see the start of Chapter 15. They moved back up and registered the closing paragraph, which was mostly polished. Then I read the thing that derailed my evening:
((the entrance hall))
Double-parentheses is my shorthand to indicate that I need a passage, but can’t write it at the time (In this case, it had been waiting for a month or so). It’s often a segment that would be challenging, long, or boring to write. Or all of the above. In this instance, our heroes have arrived at the castle and will meet their host. But they can’t walk in the front door and say ‘hi’. A noble host doesn’t open the door. She waits in an impressive throne room, having required all visitors to walk through an equally impressive entrance hall. Yes, I’m the writer and I can do anything I want – eliminate boring stuff! – but my readers have certain expectations in a fantasy tale. The author needs to continually build the world that she or he wants transport readers to.
With little left in the tank, and prejudiced against a taxing double-parens section, I knew it was over. At least for that day. I could have powered through, as many writers do when the story gets tough, and I would have cranked out a hundred words for editing later. But I would have been borrowing energy and brainpower from the next day. Six hours spent writing is pretty darn good and I had nothing to prove to myself. If I spent another 3o minutes slogging through something after midnight, I would have been tired today, and therefore, less productive. And so: Save – Back-up – Power down – Bed.
As I type away this morning, I know I made the right choice: I’m energized and feel up to the challenge. Time to describe the entrance hall of kings. I promise it won’t be long or boring.
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© Michael Wallevand, March 2017