Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Sailing Venus: And we're off

Here we are, five days into this NaNoWriMo thing, and one thing is becoming very, very clear: This novel writing stuff is hard! Now I remember why I used to just write short stories--they're not any easier, mind you, but you get to the end of an 8,000-word novelette a heck of a lot quicker than a 90,000-word novel (even tho NaNoWriMo only requires 50,000 words, we all know better). Despite having outlined approximately half of Sailing Venus, this first chapter has progressed slowly. Very slowly. Pulling teeth slowly. After four days--only two of which I've managed any actual writing--I've put a grand total of 1,000 words on paper. That's four page. In two days. Ugh.

A big part of the problem is that I'm still getting to know my characters. I have a vague notion of their personalities in broad strokes, but other than certain specific topics, I don't really know how they'd respond to general situations, how they'd talk about various things. Their speech patterns and phrasings are still a mystery in a broad sense. Add on top of that a profoundly hostile environment and my own vague notions of how the physics would work in these situations, and I've got a situation where I spend most of my time pondering plausible dialogue when I'm not flipping through my notes and reference books for clarifications.

"Now hold on," you might be saying about now. "NaNoWriMo isn't about checking notes or getting dialogue right--it's about vomiting copious volumes of words onto the page at a breakneck pace!" Well, that may be true for most folk, but nobody's ever going to mistake me for Robert Silverberg in terms of output. A certain degree of self-editing and pre-editing is inherent in my writing process. Leaving something obviously wrong in my manuscript uncorrected is a burr under my saddle, a distraction, an irritant that undermines subsequent writings. So, I write as I do, hoping the cumulative total at some point equals a book worth reading. Here's a small sample of what I've produced thus far, just so you can appreciate the depths of my struggle:

A shrill bleating interrupted her.

"That was a short 20 kilometers," Sigfried said, checking his harness.

"Nanny keeps me on a short leash." Erica sat up, tightening her harness. She gripped the yoke, thumbing the control surface of the central column. The bleating intensified. "Not today, autopilot. Altitude, 56,280 meters. Wind speed, 71 meters per second. You ready, Sigfried?"

"I hate this part."

Erica grinned. "I love it."

Windsprint pivoted under Erica’s control. The long wings flattened, contracted, compressing the hydrogen gas to negative buoyancy. The keel telescoped in, narrowing to a sliver. The sail plane dove into the teeth of the gale.

No, it doesn't exactly sparkle beautifully in the sunlight, but then again, what does? Hopefully, once I get through Chapter 1 and into the meat of the set-up, the words will flow a little easier than they do in these introductory scenes. At least, that's what I'm telling myself.

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