let’s call it progress, shall we?

I won’t say I’m not making any progress with Finnegans Fogbound, but the word count is not swelling the way it has been in past weeks. Generally, when I’m starting on a new story, I watch closely for the point when I reach “critical mass,” when the story has accumulated enuf substance that I can tell it’s going to last and that I’ll actually finish it. I reached that point several weeks ago with this novel, and while that’s encouraging, it’s also a newfound problem for me.

When I was immersed in the One-Match Fire stories, I was essentially writing a bunch of stand-alone short stories that happened to have the same characters and a continuous narrative across them. Plus I had been writing them for so long and had gone back into them so many times, that I knew just where each little thing happened or was said and where each new little thing or comment could/should/would go.

Being relatively early in the writing of Finnegans Fogbound, I don’t have that familiarity yet. I have the critical mass — about 40,000+ words — but since it’s a “cozy mystery” novel, there is plenty of set up and foreshadowing and oblique reference that must take place throughout the novel. And I was getting lost. (For example, what color are the bibs for the half marathoners and what color for the 5K runners in the race that the novel features? I needed to include this when I was describing one of the runners hurtling across the finish line, but where was the reference?) I had approached writing this novel as I had the One-Match Fire stories. Each chapter was a separate document in my computer. I have sixteen chapters to date, and where in each of those separate documents was this or that reference that I needed to find or enhance or simply understand?

So I changed my method. I spent a short while recently blending all of the discrete chapters into a single document. That way I could more efficiently search for a given word (say, “bib”) and know what I needed so I didn’t stall at a further point in the story. This also allows me to more easily know my word count. (I’m going to have written a lean novel with this one unless I come up with some substantive subplot of force into it. Not sure if that will happen though. I think the nature of the “bad guy” does need more enhancing, so that might be where to do it.)

I’ve also been spending a lot of my writing time re-reading the 40,000+ words I’ve written. This has inevitably led to many edits on the fly, which is a good thing, but it’s also giving me a better comprehensive understanding of what’s happened in the story so I know what’s still to happen. (I realize how amateurish that must sound, but as I said, it’s a cozy mystery, so structure is critical and reminder is necessary.)

Thus in the past week or so, I think I’ve only added 400 words; I’ve swollen the novel’s size by a hundredth. Go me!

Complicating this are a couple of stories that I intend to write once I get a draft of Fogbound finished. Ideas for these keep presenting themselves in my overwtaxed brain. They’re good ideas, and I want to develop them, but I want to finish one thing before diluting my efforts with another. The struggle is real, folks.

Explore posts in the same categories: Finnegans

One Comment on “let’s call it progress, shall we?”

  1. C Says:

    I think it’s good that you proofread and edit as necessary. It makes for better continuity, I think. It’s time consuming, but worth it. I stopped writing other than an occasional post here, but do remember it being very useful for essays or written responses for interviews that were going to be published. Best of luck, and I admire your dedication.

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