Man, we are closing in on the conclusion — make that the action-packed conclusion — of Son Of Music Novel. We’re so close. The scene Kent is working on is that last big chunk of writing, although we have stubs for a few more scenes that are mostly denouement. (Also, there’s a feature of the Music Novel that recurs here, and for which we need a significant amount of text. Jen’s made an excellent start on that.)
All this adds up to a strong likelihood that our manuscript’s completion will fall during NaNoWriMo. Ah well, if our baby’s a Scorpio we’ll love it anyway.
Kent’s working from a stub that turned out to be a little light on details. It was fine up to a point, and then it got vague. The way we chose to deal with that issue (once we figured it out) was to have Kent beef things up in the stub first, rather than just winging it and going straight to prose. Either way could work, and our way we knew there was a small amount of extra writing to be done. It was tempting to see that as nonproductive and skip it, but experience has taught us that we’d end up with more rewriting if we succumbed to that temptation. Better to do a few hundred words up front, knowing they’ll never be read by anyone outside of the writing cave, than to write thousands of words thinking that they’re counting toward completion only to find that they don’t work, and then do another batch.
You might be wondering how we ran into this problem, given our fervor for a stub-based methodology. It was kind of a perfect storm. The later in the story we get, the less need for worry over derailing things. This lack of worry is great from a stress-management perspective, but it can lead to cutting corners. And as it turns out, there is a second edge to that “close to done” sword: things need to start coming together, not keep ramifying. You’re on final approach, and you have to make sure you won’t run out of runway. Another factor here is that the vague area of the stub was mostly kinetic, which makes it easily glossed over. But the action in question incorporates thematic elements and needs to cover specific beats for the character arcs. It’s not just, “make up something exciting and interesting,” it’s “do that, within all these nuanced constraints.”
It seems glaring in hindsight, but until the prose was well underway we thought the stub was pretty solid. Fortunately our work style involves lots of conversation and we figured out the issues without losing any ground. Kent does seem to have a Zeno’s Paradox thing going on, where each evening he manages to write half of the remaining words in his scene. Jen’s not the kind of co-author who’ll sit back and let that run its course, so one way or another that cycle will break pretty soon.
Happy Friday the Thirteenth to all our triskaidekaphobe friends! And all you triskaidekaphiles, too.