Monday, 17 June 2013

Points of Comparison

We’re up through Chapter Three now, and it will probably become Chapter Four or Chapter Five at a later point because I’ve decided that I can’t really do the long chapters at this point. It got to a point where I felt like it was really messing with my pacing. Just didn’t like it. The earlier sections will get broken down, probably tomorrow, to keep the whole book more in form.

This brings us to 10,422 words and 36 pages so far (That’s as of Sunday, anyway. I took today off because a short story crept into my head this morning, and I wanted to nail it down before it got the chance to run away.). So far, this attempt at finishing the book is moving along a hell of a lot more quickly than either of the previous two. It’s pretty cool. I like it.

Which brings me to what I wanted to talk about today. I’m writing a book that I’ve started twice previously. The story is still the same, but I’ve started fresh each time. So far, I haven’t gotten around to writing anything yet that’s actually new. It’s all ground that I’ve covered at least once in the past six months.

I’ve never really been here before. In the past, when I’ve restarted a project, it’s because I lost a file or a notebook, or because I was returning to an idea that I had abandoned years before. I’ve never just looked at the work, decided that I didn’t like it, and then immediately whitewash over it and try again. I still have those earlier partial drafts, too. So today I got curious and went back and looked at what’s there versus what I’ve written recently.

It was kind of surprising—and probably only partially because I’ve never done it before. You hear about writers having a certain style. They write A kind of story in B kind of way, with C,D, & E kinds of characters. A Stephen King book, for example, reads like a Stephen King book. It’s pretty basic stuff. Most everyone develops a house style of writing after they’ve worked at it long enough. It’s not something that you think about, it just kind of happens.

I’m not a hundred percent sure that it’s what has happened with me on this book. It could also be the sheer chronological proximity of the drafts. But…Guys…Considering that this is the first time I’ve looked at the other drafts since I redeveloped the novel last month, there are a lot, lot, lot of correlating passages. Certain details and phrases and descriptive passages that play out the same way at the same points in the text ever time. Shit. There’s a full page in Chapter Two that—with the exception of a couple of choice words and punctuation choices—could have just been Copy/Pasted from the old document.

It freaks me out a little bit.

It’s also sort of fascinating. I’d love to experiment with it some when I’ve got the time. Re-write last year’s NaNoWriMo novel from scratch. Or the short story that got me into grad school. See how they come out. I don’t often think about the things that I’m writing as I’m writing them, at least not in a fully conscious kind of way. It’s rare for me to have forgotten where I left off when I start the day’s writing, but I’ll be damned if I remember the specific words five minutes after I wrote them. What I’m seeing here speaks of a more subconscious sort of retention though.

Maybe I’ll do a little research in my free time…

 

-Sean

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