Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Diagramming Babel (Part 24)

Diagram 24. Is there no end to these things? The terrifying truth is that I'm not even being comprehensive here. These are only the best of the lot -- there are plenty more I'm not posting.

Here's another way in which these diagrams are useful. Some mornings you boot up the machine, stare at the screen, and don't have the slightest notion of how or where to begin. That's when it helps to diagram out the chapter before you as clearly as you can. Stare at it and then add bits of dialog or plot to be included. You're already working on the chapter. From there to actually writing is only the slightest of transitions.

Sort of like warming up a car on a cold morning.

From bottom to top:

Ch. 15

A Walk Through House L'Inconnu

Things she will not tell you

I have fantasies too. One day she will weaken
and I will pull her through the mirror
to slave for me as I slave for her



"... don't seem worried"

"I am charged to see you home safe"





Look how crisp and sure this is! The writing is going smoothly.

A is for Alcyone and W . for Will, of course. I will not tell you why Alcyone's plot-line splits in two, nor who ACf might be (actually I forget what that stands for; the character acquired a different name in the writing). But how appropriate that her line should look like a martini glass! If characters were drinks, Alcyone would definitely be a martini: Austere, a bit astringent, commanding respect, infinitely desireable. A gin martini, of course. Probably Boodles.

The lack of comment along the stem suggests that I've already written the opening of Chapter 15.

M. stands for Manticore. The grammatical error in the dialog is a reflection of exactly how quickly I made these things. Also that I had the next couple of bits already in mind and was anxious to get them down before I forgot them.

B. M. is the Burning Man. Admirable fellow. But he does tend to butt in at the most inopportune times.

"Manticore-ride" is (no duh) a ride on a manticore. It's scenes like that which fantasy exists for.

V. is for the vixen. Yet another character to whom Will is rather an incidental inconvenience.

Note that arrogant flourish at the end. It means "and so on, to the end." I had the entire rest of the novel in my head by then.

Oh, and this being Chapter 15 means that I'm three-quarters of the way through the novel. My natural length for novels is twenty chapters of twenty pages each. Since there are about 250 words per page, that's five thousand words per chapter and a hundred thousand words in the book. Normally, each chapter hits the mark within one page. This time around, several were noticeably longer or shorter. I can't tell you how much that worried me.


No comments: