Finnegans Deciphered thusfar

I haven’t given a report on my progress with Finnegans Deciphered lately because, well, I haven’t made much progress with it lately. Since my last tally in February, I’ve managed to add about 8,000 words in three new chapters. Thus I stand at nine chapters comprising nearly 28,000 words. Doesn’t seem like much given that I think I’m about halfway through the story to be told.

But some of that sparseness is the result of ruthless paring on my part. I had realized that I needed to insert a new chapter, and as I wrote it, the thing had swollen to more than five thousand words, and I hadn’t even finished what I was trying to do with it. (Most of my chapters as they exist right now are around 3,500 words.) So I took the red pen to it and managed to take out 1500 words. I may use them elsewhere — it will be another new insertion chapter.

And because the story is building to a big revelation, I’m sure I’ll go back to these chapters to work in hints and other mechanisms to cause that revelation to happen. Plus I’ll need to drop in more tension. All is not as it seems in this picturesque little river town where my story is set. It’s better than it seems, but also worse in some ways. I’d like to visit again the actual town I’m using as my template to soak up more detail and tone to use as well.

I’ve also figured out how to use the “he said/she said” counterpoint in this story. I have two Finnegans: Ann and Greg. Each tends to experience the critical events of the story separately, and when they bring their experiences together, they make sense of it all. I can use that to broaden the perspective of the story telling and build a little tension. Plus it’s a fine opportunity to display character.

So that kind of tinkering will help boost the meagre word count.

I try not to let myself worry about things like chapter size and total word count. It’s much too early in the process for one thing. The story is still “revealing” bits of itself to me, so I can’t judge where it might take me. At this point I just need to keep pushing the words out of my head and onto the page. I’ll see where I’ve landed when I get to The End. And then I’ll begin the rewrite, and the rewrite of that, and so on.

Still, it’s a bit disheartening to find that this story that has nagged at me for years is coming up so sparse at the halfway point. Such a good tale, and yet what of the telling? I’ll work on it and do my best to ignore the inner voice that keeps telling my I’m not up to the task.

And during all of this, thoughts about my work-in-hiatus, Larger than Life, continue to come to mind. I’m actually making more notes about that novel than about Finnegans Deciphered. I’m not sure what to make of this. The former, I’ve judged, is not yet realized enough to write, and the latter is mostly fully realized yet not seeming sufficient.

But enough of my lamentations. I finished the insertion chapter I needed in Deciphered, and that allows me to move on to fresh developments in the plot.

Nobody said this work was easy.

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