Problems Large and Small

Okay, the downside to reading a book that grabs you by the short hairs and won’t let you go, is that it grabs you by the short hairs and won’t let you go even though you really needed to be asleep two and a half hours ago. I had to get up at 5:00 AM today, so — to get my daily allotment of sleep — I should have shut the lights out at 9:30 PM.

I didn’t.

Instead I stayed up until midnight finishing Skykeepers, because I had to see it all work out. Since it’s a romance, I knew it would work out — this is the great gift of romances — but I didn’t know how.

Despite that plunge into mild debauchery, I’m not as tired and miserable with tiredness as I thought I’d be, but I’m also not as sharp as usual. Because of that, I didn’t do much original writing today — closest thing to it was reworking a paragraph that had been bugging me.

I did make progress on the story nevertheless, solving two problems, one small-picture, the other big-picture.

The small-picture problem was caused when one character in the scene I’ve been working on presented a puzzle to the POV character. Acknowledging the problem saved me difficulty later on, but it presented difficulty now: how to solve it. It’s not that I need to solve it on the page right now, but if the solution involves the POV character in the next scene, I need to know that before I start writing the scene. I have to know what he knows. He might not think about it directly, but it’ll be there indirectly.

As it happens, he’s not the solution, but the solution will still be in the scene indirectly. The non-POV character knows what the answer is, and even though she will not reveal it to the POV character, it’s still going to be there for the audience to suss out. (Hopefully.)

The large-picture problem was kind of a paradox. I’ve been writing scenes that take place right around the first turning point, which, if I’m writing 100k words (my goal), should get me to roughly the 25k mark. This morning, the story as a whole was 43k words long, 43% of its target length. To put it another way, I was within 2 scenes of the midpoint, but the stuff I was working on takes place early in the story. How long was this monster going to be? Not 200k; no one will buy a book that’s 200k long, unless the author is established. Or, if that’s not strictly true, that kind of length still makes things much more difficult than they already are.

I decided to look at what I really have. How many words get me through the scenes I’ve been working on lately? And are there any scenes I know don’t belong any more or, if they still belong in concept, will they need so much work it’s better to demo them and start over?

I was able to cut three or four scenes, for a total of just over 5k words. On the one hand, it kills me to do that, because it makes me feel like I’m going backwards, unable to get anywhere with this story. On the other hand, that buys me a little breathing room for everything that happens in the story, and that relieves my mind.

My mind was further relieved when I figured out that the first quarter of the story is still right around 25k words long. This means I have lots and lots and lots of room to tell this story, room I think I’m going to need.



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