As promised, a further update. I’ve not gotten nearly as far as I would have liked on my book the past few weeks, but this month has been a lot busier than usual. It’s fairly easy to let the days slip by, and the thought that one day doesn’t really make a difference adds up quite quickly. However, I’m only about ten thousand words from the pivotal moment of change in the story, which will wrap up the first book in the novel. My growing concern is that the work I’ve put into building the setting has dragged on too long already, and that every word is adding to something that’s already tedious.
I’m currently reading “The Burning Land“, by Bernard Cornwell. He’s one of my favourite authors, and just about the only contemporary author I’ve encountered that I enjoy reading, aside from George R.R. Martin. However, one of the defining characteristics of his work, and the thing that makes it most enjoyable, is the pace. Action, plot development, and description are all blended seamlessly into one, allowing the reader a smooth transition from one part of the story to another.
After sixty pages, a major battle had already taken place, and the intrigue and character development was perfectly matched with the action so that there was no interruption in the flow. “Game of Thrones” does this very nicely as well, and reading these two books makes me trepidatious. I feel that my own work is bogged down by lots of character development and lengthy dialogue, without much happening. I’m 100 pages into the story at this point, and it’s all taken place over the course of a single day.
I have the damning need as a perfectionist to say everything, to explain every detail, to make everything fit. And that just doesn’t work. It’s boring! Voltaire said that to be a bore, you only need to say everything. Well, I feel like I’m on my way. Cornwell doesn’t have that problem at all. Granted, he’s written dozens of books and knows the drill. Days, weeks, months pass by in the space of a paragraph or so, and it all works.
As a reader, you don’t wonder what the characters were doing all that time, why so much time has passed, or what they’re thinking or occupying themselves with when you’re not there watching them. They do their thing, and you follow along, and it works. That’s my new writing goal: to integrate the transition of time into my story. I feel like the characters are like people: they’re always doing something, and I need to show it. But, like people, you don’t need to see what they’re doing all the time. If you miss someone having dinner, you haven’t missed much. It seems like a simple lesson, but it’s sure a hard one to learn.