Larger than life

It hasn’t all been procrastination and dithering around here. I’ve been making copious notes about the next novel I plan to work on, and I’ve written some short story drafts — one is currently in submission.

I know I had written earlier that my next novel would be one of the Finnegan stories I have knocking about in my brain. That’s changed. Due to some shifting motivation or benevolent Muse, I’ve decided to work on a completely unrelated novel with the tentative title of Larger than Life. (It is one of the three I mentioned as possible in that earlier post.)

To that end I’ve already written one of the chapters, probably the second chapter according to the structure I currently have in mind. I wrote the draft of this chapter in more or less one sitting (when perhaps I should have been focused on something else). Then I set it aside and got back to The Sleep of Reason.

Now as I look at that second chapter of LtL, I stumble over what I’ve written. It’s really not well done at all. That’s not surprising given that I wrote nearly 6,000 words in one sitting with lots of distractions, but I don’t want it to influence what I write for that novel next.

The story within it is fine. It’s the telling of it that bothers me. I don’t want to keep writing the rest of the novel in that clumsy way.

My solution is to avoid reading it. When I embark on the writing of the novel in earnest, I’ll simply write around that chapter and come back to it after I have found the voice and tone. Many writers confess that their current work has been influenced by other writers they are reading. Usually this is to the good. I’m chagrined to think that I might be influenced by my own bad writing.

October 24, 2010 Update: This chapter has polished up nicely. I’ll probably still go back to it to refine it further as my characters evolve more, but this chapter has a nice stand-along quality. I think it is whole and well done now. I think I could even submit the chapter as a short story of its own.

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One Comment on “Larger than life”

  1. Rob Crompton Says:

    Influenced by one’s own bad writing, hey? I recognise the feeling. If you are anything like me you will agonise over getting a sentence absolutely right before moving on to the next. What’s already been written tends to stay written and resists anything more than minor polishing.

    You can be influenced by your own good writing as well – and that will come later as the novel develops. That’s what I found with my novel Bunderlin. Once my main character had become fully formed I was able to go back and make those drastic alterations much more easily. Mind you, it still took a very perceptive suggestion from my publisher before I was able to complete those early chapter revisions.

    So I guess I want to say – to myself as much as to anyone else – is, get those early chapters roughed out but don’t spend so much time editing at this stage that you have a huge psychological investment in keeping them as they are. Polish, edit and tear up in the light of the later developing story.

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