Sharing the new project with some writer friends today, the test-blurb became like this:
In this novel we follow three people over a full year of big changes and new beginnings in different areas of life. There is the established painter who goes on long travels to Italy and Rome for new inspiration, a young girl student discovering a hidden talent after a crushing heartbreak, and the stability of a good friend of the painter’s, who is experiencing growth in new parts of his steady and happy life with his wife.
A short tale of the difference a year can make, in a life.
Reflections: It’s very helpful to write a blurb. It exposes the bigger structure and things that might be missing. One thing with this project is potentially the opportunity to strengthen the storylines with more clear goals. As the draft stands now, things happen but only partly as a result of the actions of the people in the story. Which is again maybe true to life, and to reality, but it might be a better story if they work towards a defined goal. Maybe.
Cover; we just briefly played around with different versions of covers in black and beautiful and colors. The one above is the clear favorite so far, but maybe a more sparkling one could draw more attention. We’ll test a few more.
First feedbacks on the “months” novel are very interesting. As a first planned novel with lots of dialogue, a few things stand out more than they have done in the past. Some of the scenes were returned with comments, and I think we’re beginning to discover something new.. the power of showing, and the power of dialogue. When it works, it becomes like a reality and truth playing out in front of your eyes.
This is partly a thrilling experience.
The first light revision and edit of the “Subdued Eruptions”/”Twelve Months” is done!
As a learning experience and using a structured plan for novel, this has been super interesting. It felt a bit like “filling out the form” reading some chapters, but other chapters were flowing freely and read more like spontaneous and improvised writing.
For the first time there was also a lot more dialogue, which I’m warming up to very quickly. Both because it’s sometimes more easy to write about a topic as a discussion between two people, and because it’s often more interesting to read about what a character says than listening to the narrator voice. The few places in the book where I felt that I got “lost” into the scenes and forgot the bigger frame, was through the tensions and suspense in the meeting and talking between two people.
There is also a very different feeling afterwards, from the shape of this work. If you write 50 pages like a “blues jam”, just improvising from page to page, it could be a great read, but the shape is hard to grab, and sometimes impossible afterwards. Having a nice shape for the story makes a difference in the mind, and how you think about it. Which is something to explore even more in the coming works.
The book is now sent for the first feedback, considering this as an experimental book.
Some concepts that didn’t work so well was to “break” the magic of the more sheltered lives in places, and write about bigger scale politics and dangers to the cities and the country. But maybe that’s for a larger scale work, or a trilogy, or a series of books. Keeping it as a backdrop that sometimes influences the characters, and sometimes moves the whole story forward. We’ll keep it as a note to self.
Three days after finishing a story that goes over 12 months, it’s weird looking back and realize that it all happened within two weeks of writing. It’s almost like another year, a separate year, has blended into my own experience of life, and become a part of my own history. Not a real life history, but a year that was lived through from the perspective of three characters. One of which traveled for six months in Italy. That fictional trip has elements that are almost as strong as my own real memories. And some elements are of course drawn from real life experience.
Sometimes writing really is like living through a journey. From a peaceful home. All in your mind.
The new short novel has the working title “Subdued Eruptions” at the moment.
This title is alluding to how the three main people in the story are each going through a big change in their lives, but it only refers to the initial threshold that is passed, or the first beginnings of a new change, that will evolve and shape their entire lives into the future.
The biggest moments in life are often, or sometimes, very quiet ones. It happens, when something silently clicks in the mind.
There was a brilliant article about characterization in Proust this morning, that made me remember my own long and incredible journey with the “In Search of Lost Time”.
I started reading the first 6 volumes of the work (of a 12 volume edition) at the young age of 22 and was completely blown away. Then it was picked up again many years later at 32 years old, and I kept reading until volume 12. At that point, it felt like the main character was getting too much older than me, too far head of me. For the first time in reading Proust’s works, there was suddenly so many problems of fully understanding what he meant and why he was writing about what he did. And it didn’t resonate in the same way. So the last volume was saved, until 42 years old.
That is still some years into the future. But maybe we’ll have a little sneak peak, soon.
After two weeks, we have a first draft of the short novel, with 140 pages or about 40k words!
Once we got used to following a plan, with a timeline and developments for the three main people, some outside events, and a couple of elements with symbolism, each chapter transformed into a seperate little task with a clearly defined intention and some necessary substance, which worked well. The word count reached over 6.000 words pr. day (2 chapters, 20 pages) several times.
Now, we will let the draft rest for a couple of weeks, and then read through it.
But this was a splendid surprise. Learning to write with a bigger defined frame was a welcome relief, especially once the story gained its own momentum.
After revising the first 4 of 12 planned chapters this week, we’ve decided to redefine or reconfirm the current project as an experiment and a learning process.
We’ve split the 12 chaps into three distinct parts, to see how it works, and chapter 5-8 will then be part II of the story. By leaving the bigger plan and structure aside for a bit, the words are flowing so much more easily.
It’s also fitting for the story as the main person has gone on a long journey, and will now live in a very different context, with different impulses and evolve in new ways.
But there is a substantial difference between writing as a “blues jam”, building each sentence based upon the one before, not knowing where we’re going – compared to filling out a defined structure.
We’ll keep on writing.
Today was a busy day with revision of the first 44 pages of the latest project with the working title “twelve months”.
For the first time we’ve been trying to write a short novel after a plan, and the results were a bit mixed compared to earlier projects. Previously we’ve written more improvised from chapter to chapter to see where the story goes, and according to what feels most natural from page to page, paragraph to paragraph.
To some surprise the improvised technique has worked quite well, while arranging the plot lines and developments for three main characters over twelve months (a year, hence the working title), made it feel somewhat stretched out and disengaged and at times, it lost some of the energetic drive or beat.
Where to go from here? We still have 8 chaps left to write but if we want to fill out the whole project according to the plan, we would have to adjust the whole story for the following chapters, to make it more interesting.
Another reflection was this: if things are too planned the language seems to suffer. It becomes more descriptive and action oriented, but loses the feeling of nice sentences that you’d like to read again, or that makes you feel good because of a certain poetic substance or some visual beauty with presence and calm.
We’ll pick this up tomorrow.
New blog – to share examples of work, and for comments and discussions!
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