Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

November 27, 2012

Progress check – My arms hurt

Filed under: the renovated life,wordsmithery — lexifab @ 10:33 am

I can’t quite fully flex my elbows. My shoulders and wrists feel loose and flop unreliably when asked to manage the slightest loads.

You may not be surprised to learn that this has nothing to do with repetitive strain injuries brought about by an excess of novel writing. Or at least, not as much as the sledge hammer with which I spent all weekend bashing down a brick pond in the back garden. A startlingly well-constructed pond, as it turned out.

Nevertheless, the novel rewrite proceeds, if not at a breathtaking pace. Last night I battled through procrastination, fatigue and the sweet motivational allure of TED Talks videos to hammer out the 700 or so words that took the manuscript woundcount total past 10000 (or 11%-ish done).

I don’t know if this is typical of other people’s writing process [1] but the experience of doing a complete rewrite of an essentially complete novel is interesting. Even though I have a detailed outline, I am still discovering new story elements as I go. Last week I realised that one of the central characters had no occupation of any kind in the first draft – she just drifted from one discussion to the next, poking at a mystery in which she was at best half invested. So now she’s a cop, and she’ll be dealing with several plot elements that didn’t really make sense to hang on some of the other characters. Way to step up, Rachel – enjoy your probation!

I’ve also found that having the outline – which is not much more than a chapter-by-chapter “X learns this” or “events have this effect on Y” or “Z takes the fight to the triffid-farmers” [2] – gives me a bit of room to play with structure at the lower levels. It turns out that it makes sense for Chapter 2 to be a Rashomon-like retelling of the same event from three different perspectives. It makes it fun to write, though of course the trick will be whether I can also make it fun to read without being redundant or confusing.

Anyway, after adding only a disappointing 3000 words for the week I am trying to get back to my target 4000+. I now have a nominal deadline. The CSFG novel critiquing group will resume in February or so – eight round-table participants take turns critiquing a novel or novella manuscript a month. I haven’t done much long-form criticism before [3] and I know that my novel will benefit immeasurably from being torn apart by kindly strangers, so I want to put myself in the nest possible position to take advantage of it. But that means I need to be finished or close to it by February. Eep!

Progress report: 10,005/90,000

[1] Because I am such an inexperienced rewriter. What I mean is that I am a lazy, lazy writer and I have a lifelong aversion to doing any piece of work a second time. Not going back and reviewing work to see if it can be improved is a demonstrably hard habit to overcome.

[2] Obviously I am being deliberately obfuscatory here. There are no characters called Z in my novel.

[3] coughcoughcough. I am still working on manuscripts from two of my buddies, who are demonstrating exemplary patience with my slow feedback. It’s coming, I promise!


  1. Obviously I am being deliberately obfuscatory here. There are no characters called Z in my novel…

    But I just bet you have five characters called ‘W’ distinguished only by different birthmarks on their buttocks and the fact that W #3 has a faint Welsh accent.

    …exemplary patience…

    Mine derives primarily from an ambition to immediately come back at you with Volume 2 as soon as you finish. 😛

    Comment by Dr Clam — November 27, 2012 @ 12:02 pm

  2. I don’t even want to know how it is you can write this faster than I can read it.

    Comment by lexifab — November 27, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

  3. I didn’t say it was a *reasonable* ambition…

    Comment by Dr Clam — November 27, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  4. You might need to give me a year, in the event that I’m critting seven other novels.

    Comment by Lexifab — November 27, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  5. Do you have one of those tables to determine which body part takes the critical hit? “Ow, your chapter 7 has been cut off, -1 to prolixity”

    Comment by Dr Clam — November 28, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  6. I do hope to produce criticism so insightful that it dismembers someone.

    93 – Excise 20d4 adverbs of your choice
    94-95 – Hack out all the attributives in 1d4 chapters
    96-99 – Delete the first and last chapters
    00+ – Kill author, publish manuscript under own name, win awards

    Comment by lexifab — November 28, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

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