Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Journal of a "Novel"-Entry 29


Progress is limited on completing Chapter 2 of my novel, but it is coming along slowly. I have already written the draft in longhand, and I am currently engaged in the second revision of the chapter. It's difficult work and fairly tedious and I don't enjoy it as much as I do composing the chapters themselves, even if I don't know where the hell I am going in the story. My guess would be that most novelists, if pressed, probably don't like the revisions as much as the initial writing, but who knows. Everyone has their own methods, so I suppose everyone has their own preferences. I find it pretty hard to write the chapter over 6-8 weeks and then revise it painstakingly three times, but that's the M.O. I landed on for this effort, and I am hoping that this work will pay off. I never was a very good revisionist with my writing in the past and it usually showed. But there is a higher standard in place here, and I am going to enforce that standard, since this is the largest and most ambitious writing effort I have undertaken to date. As well it should be. Everything I have done before has led to this. Even I don't know what "this" really is yet. So the revision work I am doing now is extremely important, and I recognize that about it. Additionally, I know the book will probably go through many more revisions. I recently read an interview with one novelist where she said that after she has written a first draft of her novels, they get revised so many times that almost none of what was there the first time is left when it's published. That's hard to believe, but probably the truth. I sincerely doubt I will revise my novel to that extent; whether that proves to be a detriment remains to be seen. Right now, as I have written, I am in the second revision of the second chapter. The second revision for me typically is the most "intense", where I try to consciously improve the language, cut out anything that isn't required, and sharpen the focus. Following this I will make a third revision which will chiefly consist of additional cuts - stripping extra fat away. Hopefully this will not take me all the way until Christmas to do, but if it does, so be it. I only get so much time, and I only work so fast.

Chapter 3

With my focus on revision, I have not come up with many very concrete decisions with regard to the storyline as it runs through Chapter 3. But I do try to keep a partial view on it peripherally while I revise the previous chapter. And hopefully things will slowly begin to come together and I will recognize where this story "wants" to go. I know the time frame for it (5 months forward, to November 1924) and I know the place (back in Bentonville, IN). And now, for my rapt readers, I will reveal general plot concepts thus far for the upcoming chapter. These usually change to some degree, and frequently have to be pared down, but for now, here you go:

For Walter Brogan, it will be a time where his main efforts are trying to assert himself in his business and establish a normal life for himself and his wife. When Edward Jackson, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, is elected governor, Brogan will become determined to do something to help combat the presence of the Klan in his community, having bitter memories of their previous intrusion into his life (Chapter 1). He will seek the advice of his father-in-law and admit that the Klan intruded on his wedding night. He will also establish a rapport and friendship with a farmer named Cal Wittenberg, a fellow resident and member of the Knights of Columbus, since the Knights are considering taking more aggressive steps to counteract the Klan's presence. Meanwhile, we will get more insight into Greta Brogan's routine at her parents' house and some background on her life. We will find out some details about her brother, Peter, who has gone against his father's wishes, dropped out of law school, and traveled to Texas to serve as an apprentice to the supposed "oil tycoon", "Pops" Wheeler. Finally, if I can get all of this in there, we will see at least something of Myron Devreaux (who is featured "off camera" as it were in Chapter 2) positioning himself for an eventual foray into local politics in Bentonville.

What will Chapter 3 eventually look like? Time will tell. But what I hope I've done here, an absolute exclusive for blog readers, is provided you with an idea of the vision that I have for the next installment of this expanding saga.

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