Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Pre-Writing" for Chapter Five

I let myself out of the house today. Went to the coffee shop, away from telephones, dirty clothes, and the internet. Away from anything, in other words, that might distract me from the novel. Regardless of my other responsibilities, I am determined to work for at least three hours a day, five days a week, on this draft until it's completed.

I'd planned to start work on Chapter Five today, which I did, but I didn't actually write anything that will end up in Chapter Five. Chapter Five is about one of the main characters, a character who has shown up in a couple of previous chapters, but only very subtly ... she's shown up like a design in wallpaper so far. You see her, but you don't really notice her.

I realized that I needed to understand more about this character and her past before I could write a single word of Chapter Five, even though her past would have little to do with Chapter Five itself. But I couldn't write about a character I didn't know.

So I sat down and typed out a five-page monologue, from that character's point of view. I basically have her tell her life story. What came out was pretty tragic. I knew this character would be a complex person, but now I'm seeing just how complex.

I also had to make a character list and figure out when everyone was born and how old they are in the story and how old they were in 1956 and how old they were when different, younger characters were born. That was very time-consuming, but the final chart was a handy-dandy reference when it came time for this character to tell her life story.

Next: Housework. Work on Jan's book. Run. Practice. More housework.

It's been a good day for writing. Maybe I'll start actually writing Chapter Five tomorrow.

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