Friday, September 18, 2009

Pounding It Out, Day 18

I'm officially hitting the wall now. Still pretty much on pace as of midnight, but will probably fall behind significantly starting today.

I'm past the halfway point, into the hardest part of the book for me, which is taking all the specific threads I've written into the manuscript so far and fitting them into the outline, which has by this point turned into the vaguest of vague allusions ("at some point, he'll kidnap this guy and get some piece of information out of him which will give him the clue to how to do the big climactic thing" when neither point nor guy nor information nor big climax exist even as ideas yet). I had been writing to more or less a decent plot outline, although I invented a lot to fill in. But when I passed halfway, I lost almost all of that.

And in writing the first half, I forgot to introduce several supporting characters on which the second half hinges; having those characters established would make the second half much easier to write. Not to mention that I have become extremely uneasy about the plausibility of the big halfway twist, upon which the entire book depends. So no pressure or anything.

Meanwhile, I just read Richard Stark's Nobody Runs Forever. Okay, this will sound stupid, probably because it is. I have long admired Richard Stark from second-hand, because I'd read about how much Stephen King admired him. Stark was the pseudonym under which Donadl Westlake wrote his series of hard-boiled crime novels starring the thief, Parker. And reading King's description of Stark's writing, it was almost as if I'd read it myself, but I never had. I just imagined what it would be like.

So when I started this book, I had Stark as an inspiration, but not the real Stark--the imaginary Stark I'd pictured from King's descriptions. Well, I finally got around to reading one of the Parker novels, and my book is nothing like that. Which isn't necessarily bad. I think what I'm writing may be closer to James M. Cain, whose books I had read before (altough in Reader's Digest condensed versions that my mom had lying around, so some would say I haven't read those, either).

But I will probably take some inspiration from Stark. The writing is very economical, fast-moving, unsentimental. Strangely enough, I've been struggling for years to bring more emotion into my writing, so it's an interesting thought to try to leach it back out.

But it's clear now that I'm going to need some major revisions to make this book work, and it's getting harder to drive on with the weight of those mistakes behind me, knowing htat I need to make changes both big and small to the first half of the book, and those changes will be reflected in the second half of the book, meaning what I write now is sort of doubly irrelevant. Not only will it need to be rewritten on its own merits, but it may need to be fundamentally changed due to changes in the first half. I feel like that dork who starts telling a long, involved joke, then halfway through says, "Wait a minute, I'm telling it wrong. I forgot this big part. Let me start over."

But there's no way I quit now, go back and start making revisions to the first half. Then I'd never get to the end. That way lies madness.

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