Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 35, May 2, 2010

Today's writing continued the subject I began yesterday: filling in the background of three antagonists. Yesterday, I commented on the placement of such material in the arc of the storyline. I believe it should fall somewhere in the middle of the story at a point dictated by the development of the plot. In other words, there should be story logic as to where this type of material is placed.

The question I faced today is how long should such biographical information continue? Yesterday, I wrote five-plus pages and today I did the same, and tomorrow I'll do probably a couple more. That's thirteen pages on one facet of the story. Far more than I'd devote to an average scene. But, to be fair, the material is divided into a number of scenes.

Still, how long can you let other characters cool their heels. The answer, I think, is for as long as the background stuff is interesting and contributing essential information to the story, i.e. furthering the reader's understanding of what's going on.

The popular lit superstar of the moment is the late, great Stieg Larsson. In his second Millennium novel, he has the reader cruising along with his fearless heroine Lisbeth Salander from the start of the book and well into it. Then he has Lisbeth take a powder for a very long time. Even the other characters in the story wonder what the heck has happened to her. Of course, there are different rules for every writer (as to what a publisher will accept), and were Larsson still alive, there would be precious few restrictions on him.

Thing is, though, he put Lisbeth on the shelf for a good chunk of his book and got it published before he was famous.

My takeaway from that is to keep the parts of your story that you like and take your chances.

Day 35 of writing my new novel is done.

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