Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Some people write novels by starting at the beginning and writing steadily through until they reach then end. Others jump around, doing the chapters that interest them, then going back and knitting everything together.

I find that different novels lend themselves to different approaches. Some, particularly those with multiple diverse threads that slowly draw together, are easy to write out of sequence. Others need to be written one chapter at a time, because I can only see each chapter as I come to it.

But whatever kind of novel I happen to be working on, I've learned that I can't be too rigidly wedded to a particular approach. If a novel that I'm working on by doing chapters all over the storyline starts to unravel in my hands, I may have to go back and actually write some of those chapters that I've been skipping over. Equally, if I get balked by a chapter in a novel I'm writing sequentially, but I have a clear view of the chapter that follows, it's often best to simply jump over the offending chapter, then come back and work it out once I have a clearer idea just where the novel is heading.

Young Rene XIV is something of a mix. I've been doing it largely sequentially, but more than once I've jumped over a problematic chapter, or scene within a chapter, in order to keep from being left stuck. Recently Chapter 10, which deals with events in the hinterland of the Swamp Kingdom, was giving me trouble. I just couldn't seem to get a feel for where it needed to go. However, I had a much clearer idea of what Chapter 11 should look like, so I decided to jump ahead and write it. So now the novel's moving again.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Today I broke 50,000 words on Young Rene XIV, which is a significant milestone. That's the number of words you try to produce in NaNoWriMo (although I have yet to be able to participate -- every November it seems some obligation always comes up to devour all my available time). I'm figuring that I'm somewhere between a quarter and a third of the way through the overall storyline, although the overall form of the novel is still shaky in my mind.

Still, it was cool to add up all the chapter wordcounts and realize that I'd made the mark -- and I still have scenes I need to add to or complete in both Chapter 3 and Chapter 5, and may be adding one more scene to Chapter 2. Not to mention that I'm still extremely dissatisfied with Chapter 1, at least partly because significant parts of it strike me as idiot plot as written. So it's quite possible that the 50,000 word mark may shift backward somewhat before I get a complete draft written.

How long that may take will probably depend upon what other obligations come my way. Although right now it seems that non-fiction projects are rather scarce on the ground.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Looking for a Key

A key element, that is.

I'd been able to push the first scene of Chapter 3 of Young Rene XIV forward a few pages, only to run into a fresh block. This time it was a logical one -- I knew Benoit du Rocher needed a way to get a message to his wife, but couldn't take it himself. I'd originally thought to have him send a messenger, but if he did that, why didn't he order the messenger to accompany her and the children on the road?

Not to mention, if he couldn't get through, why did he think a messenger could get through in his place?

So I was stuck, trying to figure out how to logically bridge the gap. It was too short a distance for a carrier pigeon, but perhaps some other animal might be suitable -- and equally, not suitable for taking on the road, which would rule out a dog.

Did I want to go for something ordinary, if a little wild, like a raccoon? Or perhaps something exotic, like a small raptoral dinosaur or some really alien critter imported from the Outer Worlds?

And then I recalled that Ixilon's cats enjoy greater intelligence than those we're familiar with, and there are personal connections with a historical hero whom Benoit greatly admires. Suddenly everything came together and I knew how to take care of that critical juncture.

However, I'm now faced with the question of whether I need to have cats and their strange gifts in Ixilon figure again in the story.