Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sensory Overload - Part II

After taking years off from writing my book, Sensory Overload, I am back up on the horse. I finally finished writing my first new chapter in a while, Chapter 8.

I remember hitting the wall because I had come to a cross-roads in my story and I didn't know which direction to take. Just thinking about it caused me frustration and sapped my enthusiasm to write. I felt like I would just have to wait for the inspiration to hit again. It lasted much longer than I thought, but the breakthrough finally came on a long drive up to my Grandmother's house for Easter. I tried to zone out the bumper-to-bumper traffic while listening to some music on the radio and a cool idea for my story popped into my head. Plot points just started to fall into place like magic and I found myself mapping out chapter after chapter in my brain and I even figured out how I wanted to end it.

Near the end of the drive, I had to pull into a 7-Eleven to buy a small notepad and quickly write all my thoughts down before they vanished back into the ether. That was a great drive.

Now, on to Chapter 9.

UPDATE: 2/14/09

I finished Chapter 9. My New Year's Resolution is to finish Chapter 13 by the end of the year. My book will then be half finished.

UPDATE: 4/9/09

I have finished Chapter 10. While writing this chapter, I had an inspiration on how to wrap up Part III of my book. I now have to decide if I want to end the book at that point or continue with my original plan to finish it with Part IV. An expanded version of the storyline in Part IV might make a good sequel.

UPDATE: 5/9/09

I have finished writing Chapter 11. I am ahead of schedule so far on my New Year's Resolution to write five chapters this year. I am going to spend the last three weeks of May editing the three chapters I've written so far, before starting to write the last two in June.

UPDATE: 8/2/09

Chapter 13 is finished. I know I skipped Chapter 12, but it's okay. My chapters are currently alternating between two main characters and I was feeling inspired to continue with the same one after Chapter 11. The good news is I figured out how I wanted to write Chapter 12 as I wrapped up this one.

I like the pace I am currently writing at, around two months per chapter. Fast enough to keep the storyline fresh in my head, but slow enough to think carefully about the upcoming plot.

This week, I also finished a rough chapter outline for my story arc in Parts III & IV. I have expanded my original plan for Part III to spread it out over III & IV. I realized that I was trying to cram too much story into too few chapters. Now my original idea for Part IV will definitely be pushed into a second book.

UPDATE: 11/10/09

I am back to writing after taking a break for my trip to South America. Walking through the hillside favela in Rio de Janeiro really inspired me to go back and rewrite two of my recent chapters. I have just completed making the edits to Chapter 10 and half-written Chapter 12. Now I have a month and a half to finish writing Chapter 12 and complete my New Year's Resolution. I will finish.

UPDATE: 12/12/09

I have finished writing Chapter 12 with two weeks to spare in 2009 and Part II is complete. My book is now 273 pages long at the half-way point. Since there was more than a five year gap between writing Parts I & II, I will spend several months editing both to make sure they are consistent with each other and the story flows.

Hopefully it won't take too long before I start writing Part III. I already have pages filled with notes about new chapters and I am eager to write them.

UPDATE: 1/2/10

I saw James Cameron's Avatar for the second time today. I really love it but I'm worried that people will think I stole some of it's ideas for my book even though the plots are radically different. My main character's name is Jâk, pronounced just like Jake from the movie. That is not so bad by itself, except that Jâk also has blue skin and is a former soldier who was discharged because of a combat injury. At least their injuries are different, Jake has paralyzed legs while my Jâk suffered brain damage.

The last item is only vaguely comparable. While Jake links up to an alien avatar body, Jâk uses a link to control computers and other machines over a network. I came up with all these ideas back when I started writing my story in 1996. It's funny because it probably won't matter at all. How many will end up reading my book to spot these details when it is finished anyway?

UPDATE: 3/6/10

I have spent the first couple months of 2010 working on fixing my grammar in Parts I & II. Using Find in my word processor to get rid of bad words like suddenly, completely or entirely, and changing my passive verbs to active. I have just finished going through and removing all the prepositional phrases that state the obvious or adverbs that intensify instead of modify. It's very time consuming. It is amazing how many little typos I find searching through my book in this way. I tend to miss them when I am reading the story straight through.

I have now started the part of editing that I love, re-reading the chapters and adding deeper layers to my story. Fixing dialogue and adding details. When I write my first draft, I am more concerned with pushing the plot forward and I use generic details and dialogue as placeholders. I have already found in my grammar search six scenes that need to be re-written based on how the story has developed in the later chapters.

I am planning on editing a chapter a week so I can get back to writing new ones before the end of summer. I have not stopped planning the future chapters and I have been making notes of all the ideas that keep jumping into my head when I am in the shower or driving to work.

Update: 5/8/10

I have finished editing 11 chapters so far with a few more to go before I can start writing new material. I think I have been making a lot of improvements.

While I enjoy writing, I am not very prolific. It takes me about an hour to write 1 page of rough draft and I get burnt out if I write more than 2 a week. When I am doing a thorough edit of a chapter (around 15 pages), it takes me about 10 hours to check every single line. I can easily spend an hour just tinkering with a couple paragraphs.

A quick chapter edit, where I read fast to test the flow of the story, takes about an hour. I haven't done the math but the amount of time I have spent on these first 14 chapters must be huge. I did about 20 drafts of Part I back when I was stuck on the future storyline.

Update: 7/19/10

I have finally finished editing all 14 chapters and I'm ready to start writing new material. I made some major changes in the prologue and had to follow the ripples it created through the rest of the novel. My biggest rewrite was creating a whole new version of Chapter 6. Russ had been reading some of my chapters and has given some great notes that I incorporated in Chapters 4 and 5.

I have also been working on the outline for my second book during the past month. For years, I've had the idea to write a travel adventure story, a fictionalized version of my international trips. I've finally figured out the basic plot and I have been writing down the timeline and locations.