"And to fly on charred, paper wings..."


I have been meaning to post an entry for over a week now. Whenever I've tried, however, I've always been thwarted by something. It could be lack of time, lack of energy, or simple fear of writing anything publicly at all.

I had tried writing something last night as a matter of fact. I certainly had time to write last night. I also had more than sufficient energy. Yet, each time I made the attempt, I failed spectacularly. The preponderance of the evening was the current status of Paper Girl. I felt that it was about time for me to make a post about how the project is going. When I tried to write such an entry, however, it come out as overtly grand or too divorced from the subject at hand.

To put it simply, I think that the writing is going quite well. I have been constructing a new outline for the last month. Instead of opening the last version of the outline, I had decided to start from scratch with a new, blank document. This was in fact a suggestion from a web comic artist of some fame. I further took the advice of other writers online by using a drastically simplified outline format. Everything has been distilled down to bullet points of only the most "structural" elements of the story. This was meant to correct my tendency to overplot during the last round of outlines. I had also been extensively using my paper journal during the writing process.

Several years ago when I was writing a video game, I had used my paper journal as a means to sort out my thoughts when it came to programming. Occasionally, I also used it to discuss general ideas of the game world, as well as the story of the game. I looked to Di Vinci's journal as a form for my own -- a place to explore my ideas. I could try to post this material online, but nothing compares to the feel of genuine paper and the smell of ink.

To my own surprise, my journal has become a valuable writing tool. Many of my most productive nights writing begin with opening the pages of that small book and uncapping my fountain pen (sometimes ceremony is important). Many of the resulting entires are meandering blocks of text in which I discuss and flesh out an idea. I don't consider them private, but I don't feel they're of sufficient quality to post. I could be wrong about this of course.

Eventually I'll put my journal aside, the entry complete. Then do I turn to my word processor and tap out one or two bullet points. Some nights when I've struck upon a particularly marvelous idea, it'll be as many as three or four. In one instance, it was eleven.

Those eleven bullet points are one of the biggest changes I've made in the story. Paper Girl has always had a rather hefty backstory. In the Draft 3 outline, it took up three entire pages. The story also always seems to have trouble starting (in more ways than one!). In order to solve these problems, I made the rather obvious choice to put the backstory into the main telling of the story itself. In the process I tweaked many of the details and compressed the time line. This new beast is now the first part of the story, "Contradictions".

[img_assist|nid=377|title=|desc=|link=node|align=right|width=150|height=93]The character of Novella has also been changed. For some months I felt she needed to be a darker character in order to justify her relationship with Akisa. Novella has always been a difficult character. While at times I rather like her, many times she seems too malleable. Whenever I tried to figure her out, she always seemed to slip away. Many times it seemed that the character would change to fit whatever my mood was at the moment. I went back and reexamined the original character. When I put all of this together, I realized what she had been trying to tell me all this time. I actually do not want to say what it was -- you'll have to read the story -- but the picture gives you a huge metaphorical hint.

I have also decided not to post my outline online. While previous outlines are available on my website, I feel that this is no longer appropriate. Even if I were to make it available, it's intended to be so broad as several different stories could be stretched upon its frame. I may, however, make it available to my friends and other acquaintances for their perusal. I would like to finish it first.

Currently I'm debating an issue of numbers as well. I use my own version system for my writing. Drafts indicate not a successive version, but a casting of the story universe. Revisions indicate further development of the story within that universe. So whenever I decide to make major changes in the characters or story, I feel it necessary to change the Draft number. I had felt I was working on Draft 4 for most of summer. When I began working on my writing heavily the last month, I felt that the story had changed dramatically. For this reason, I beginning to wonder if I'm working on Draft 5, rather than Draft 4. In the end, it only matters to me. While it means little to the reader, I find these labels important to keep my thoughts organized.

I hope to return to writing soon. This week it has been difficult due to work and a touch of illness. Perhaps a break is what I need.