"Skipping Across Time Like A Stone"

Well, I've finished another chapter in my book, putting that at two — I think — since I last posted here. My book has reached 70,206 words, which means it is approaching the mark where it will be the longest thing I've ever written.

And you know what?

I'm feeling really good about it.

This might be the longest I've ever worked on any project, and long before now I usually give up, as whatever I'm working on collapses under the weight of a thousand structural mistakes, or loses its interest for me as I realize that, due to a lack of foresight early on, I had not actually prepared myself for some eventuality. Not so this time. This time, I'm actually moving ahead quite nicely towards finishing it.

Of course, as you can see if you've been following the automated total-word-count projections on my blog homepage, you'll know that the pace at which I cover each plot point in my outline is slowing down significantly: so that each plot point takes more and more time to get to. It's sort of like a dark matter effect for writing, where the spacetime fabric of my book is stretching faster than I can move, so that those distant galaxies of plot points get ever farther away. In fact, I think I can see a redshift!

That might sound discouraging, and perhaps it should be, but honestly, I've never felt better about this. Practice makes perfect, and all the practice I've been getting with writing, whether on my manuscript, or on Quora, or here on Blogger, has really been helping me put together my vision and my voice. See, I don't think my writerly universe is expanding because I'm getting to be a worse writer, or because I'm hitting a wall. I think it's happening because I'm becoming a better writer, someone who knows how to take their time and really develop a situation. That and, as time goes on, the plot is becoming more complex and involved, with more interesting bits and moving parts, which take more to cover in a satisfactory way.

Speaking of covering things in a satisfactory way, this last chapter was a weird one. With the Patricius, Aedus and Appius POVs safely in cryosleep for a while (although not for as long as they think they will be!), I need to keep the Cassandra POV in sync. I don't want them to be in wildly different time frames because, as I experienced when reading Revelation Space, that can lead to some confusing metal mathematics for the poor reader (and me as an author too), and there's already enough going on in this damn book without adding another confusing thing. What this means is, to let Cassandra's POV catch up in time, I have to cover about twenty years of stuff with the Cassandra POV before I go back to the Aedus &co. POV to advance their story thread.

What I ended up doing to work this out, I'm not totally happy with. I essentially had a sort of Cassandra-focused narrator, set off between tildes, carrying the main narrative backbone of the chapter, which then gives way at crucial moments to a more tightly focused Cassandra-narrator. Neither are omniscient or anything, but one is far more sped-up and abstract, so that it approaches feeling like third-person omniscient without ever actually becoming it. This lets me get away with, as Sceparnio says near the end, "skipping across time like a stone," without having a jarring transition between an omniscient narrative style — which I'd only use in this one place — and the rest of the book, where a third-person omniscient is used.

It turns out to be a little awkward in places, so I might have to go back and change the exact configuration of the two narration-styles in the second draft, but the overall effect works really well in my opinion, and the focused narrative parts are very impactful, which will offset the more boring narrator parts. I also gave Titus a POV for variety.

One thing about this chapter is that, at 7,000 words, it is a very long chapter. It might, in fact, be the longest chapter in this book. That's not ideal, especially with how didactic parts of it are, but I can't really bring myself to break this up into two chapters, since that would require a little more literary apparatus, resulting in an even longer "interlude," without much benefit. I think I'll just let this be a long chapter. Interestingly, it might turn out to be around the middle of the book (the projector says 190k words, but it might turn out to be shorter, around 140k maybe... one can hope!), making it a fun fulcrum.

Anyway, that's it for now.


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