Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day Four: Learning Curve

Wordcount: 7512 (and counting)
Target: 6896

I'm in Berkeley now. After a delicious "waffle special" at Fatapple's, I spent the morning writing in the North Reading Room of Doe Library. The North Reading Room is so lovely--why didn't I spend more time there as a student? It's a high, vaulted room lit by ample windows and skylights. The reading tables are beautiful old oaken monstrosities, with chairs to match, and on each table are several foliate brass reading lamps, each with electrical outlets built into its base. Now I'm in a cafe with a couple of medievalists, hard at work. Well, I'm mostly hard at work, but now that I've made today's wordcount (with some words to spare, thank you), I feel justified in cruising the NaNo forums a bit, and of course posting here, which is for some reason much easier than writing a novel.

For today's featured topic, I'd like to talk about my difficulties. What's so hard about writing a novel? I can only answer for myself, but here are a couple of problems that I'm struggling with:

First and foremost, there is the obvious problem of plot. Thinking ahead, building up the path that moves the narrative logically yet suspensefully from introduction to climax, is difficult. I'm not saying this doesn't get easier with practice, but it is hard work. It just is. And when this isn't working, it creates the most difficult kind of block to work past. It makes it very hard to say anything at all.

Then there's the problem of managing dialogue. My biggest problem with dialogue is making it serve the rest of the story. My characters start talking to each other, and before you know it I find that I've forgotten where this little speech was going. Or, worse, they've said what needed to be said, but now they're trapped in a conversation that has to come to a natural end. In real life, conversations go on. There are few situations in which a conversation between normal people ends with, "well, that's all I needed to say. Goodbye." But in a story, you can't just let them stand there telling each other about what's going on with them. You have to come up with interruptions so that they can shut up and you can get on with the story.

These aren't my only problems by a long shot, but they are the only ones I have time to talk about right now. One of my guys has just done a very stupid thing, and they are about to get in really big trouble.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe to break a converstation that has gone on too long you can throw a couple of kobolds at the characters?