The rewrite progresses

If I tell you I think that getting through the first four chapters of the rewrite of my novel is great progress, will you not laugh too hard?

It’s been an interesting experience for me thus far, scrutinizing the early chapters. I’m seeing the writer I was then — about a year ago. More precisely, I’m seeing my state of mind about the direction of the novel when I was just getting started and had only the vaguest idea of where it would all lead. This is fun, and I guess it gives me some insight into my mysterious and murky creative process.

What I’ve found is that I threw a lot of material into those early chapters. I was planting all sorts of seeds for story possibilities. Some I went on to develop, but others I left fallow. I’m fascinated by what I was doing, mostly in the dark back then, to give the story the broadest possible avenue for development. My narrative is a bit florid, but that is in keeping with the narrator/protagonist at that point in his development. He’s proud and confident, and he thinks he is in control. He talks like the big man he thinks he is. And while I’ve done some pruning and rearrangement of sentences, I’ve mostly kept his adipose prose.

When I opened first-draft Chapter 3, I met a surprise. The monster was 10,000+ words long! While that may be perfectly normal in many novels, it’s about twice the size of the average chapter in the rest of this novel. It’s an example, in a different way, of me throwing a lot of material in. I covered a lot of ground in that chapter, but I don’t think I worried too much about its since since Chapter 1 was 8,000 words. First-draft Chapter 3 deals with a single day in my protagonist’s life, and I guess I thought that justified keeping it all in one chapter, regardless of the size required.

I’ve since changed my mind about that. I clove the chapter in two. This actually improves the story because it ends the first new chapter with an important though obscure-at-this-point point, and it does the same for the beginning of the second new chapter.

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