Sleepy notes

My notes file for The Sleep of Reason has swollen to more than 35,000 words. That’s half a novel, just in notes! I’d like to think it’s all pure gold, but some of it is quite old and may not be pertinent to the direction the novel has taken over the past year. Much of it I’ve already incorporated in the novel too, so it’s not as though I have all of this extra material ready to add to the 90,000 words I’ve already written in the novel.

In the dim ages, when I wrote for a living, I created procedure manuals by the score. I am sure that I wrote thousands of pages of technical instructions. There was a time when I flirted with the idea of joining one of several organizations of technical writers, and I began reading books in the field. I soured on all of this, though, when I came upon a statistic that said a good technical document of say ten pages ought to have at least four times that number of pages in preparation documents! This didn’t mean prewriting or various drafts but supporting documentation and research material including minutes from the various meetings that were convened to explore the matter (that would be kept on file permanently). All of this to explain he explanations. The point was that no bit of technical documentation was worth its name if it didn’t have reams of background documentation.

Something about that seemed wrong, and I soon turned my meager writing talents away from the profession.

I’d like to think that all of my notes for the novel are of a different order. Much of it really is prewriting and first draft material. Not a bit of it is the minutes of any meetings. And anyway, fiction is far more important than any technical manual!

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One Comment on “Sleepy notes”

  1. Rod Duncan Says:

    Hi Paul,

    Found your blog from the helpful comment you left on mine. Thanks for that.

    There seems to be a tension between the impulse to plan a novel, thus keeping control of the structure, and the desire to keep the writing experience fresh by not planning. Novelists seem to position themselves at different places on this spectrum from rigid planners on the one side to those who never know what is coming next.

    I seem to change my aproach with each new project!

    All the best.

    Rod


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