Monday, May 03, 2010

Corporate Retreat

Well, I didn't quite finish the book. I've essentially finished the main part of the story -- in nearly 7,000 more words -- and my main characters have achieved their goals. I still need to write what in musical terms would be the coda -- the aftermath bit that wraps up any loose ends, shows the consequences of what happened, shows a little bit of how the main characters feel about what happened and gives a glimpse of what will be the new normal now that things have happened. I've certainly imagined the aftermath, a lot of it even before I wrote the book, but the trick is to determine how much of what I've imagined needs to be in the book and how much is essentially mental fanfic (like the way I tend to imagine more of the aftermath to books, TV episodes and movies I like). You want to put in just enough to make the ending satisfying and answer the major questions, but not enough that you've written Return of the King, where the ending goes on for more than half an hour.

It doesn't help that I think I've changed my mind about what happens in the aftermath, based on what I've just written, and now I'm not entirely sure how each character feels about what just happened and how they'll all react. Therefore, I've made the executive decision that I will wait to write the coda until after I've revised the rest of the book. I figure the final result will be the same, but with less work. If I try to write it now, then when I've gone through the whole book and tweaked the story and adjusted the characters and thought more about it, I'll end up having to rewrite it. If I wait, then the whole story will be fresh in my head, it will be more concrete, and I'll know how many words I have to work with. So, the book is done for now and I'm taking a break.

This won't be a vacation, though, more like a corporate retreat. I've discovered that it helps in working on something to switch gears and work on something else. It gives me a fresh perspective. I'll be doing a lot of reading -- not so much recreational reading as research for the next book I plan to write. This book will require a lot of fact-type world-building research, plus a lot of fiction research. It's a book that would be classified as one genre, one that I'm just developing some familiarity with, so that requires some reading. It incorporates a lot of elements and structure from another genre, so more reading there. I'm thinking of writing it in the style of yet another kind of book, and that will require some reading. Even the world-building research will involve some fiction because it's a setting/situation for which there are a lot of thinly veiled autobiographical novels, written by people who lived in that world. I wouldn't use that to get facts, but it is a good way to get a sense of the society and the way the people who lived in it thought. Plus I plan to review the materials from some writing seminars I've attended.

And I plan to do some fun stuff, as well as take care of some things that have been on the to-do list for a while, for "after the book is done." I need to do some relaxing and recharging. I'm going to start my retreat with a trip to the library this afternoon, and then I think I'll do two weeks worth of medical school work so that I can take next week totally off. I made pizza last night and I have leftover Chinese food from the weekend, so I don't even have to cook.

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