Mad In Pursuit Notebook

cover page from 1993 manuscript

Work In Progress: SMUGGLERS' ROAD

Sat, 3.14.2015. (cont'd from 1.24.15) Yes, I'm still working on it. The "finished" original 111,879 words is currently a slenderized 109,567 words. I read it once and it was good. I read it twice and found some areas for improvement. Now I'm on my third read-through and finding innumerable passages ripe for polishing. As so many wise writers have said: "All writing is rewriting." And truth be told, I love the rewriting. First drafts are hell.

I'm using Robert McKee's "Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting" as my coach. Yes, I'm writing a novel, not a screenplay, but what writer doesn't want their work to be cinematic--a wonderful story, with an engaging beginning, tons of progressive complications, and an immensely satisfying ending?

I tended to write the original straight ahead, without an outline. Then when I got near the end I did a retroactive outline. I divided up my short chapters into "parts" a little arbitrarily... as the mood hit, I think. So I'm using McKee to make sure I have "Acts"--major sequences of scenes, with their own complications, a big crisis/dilemma, and a climax (in deeper!). The method is casting a light on some flaws, but that's a good thing.

I also wrote the original as the first of a series about art-theft detectives. The ending has a lot of exposition setting the characters up for more adventures together. But I've liberated myself from that notion. So, I can wrap up this novel with a more powerful, less genre-driven ending.

Onward... [continued 6.7.15]


Image at top: Akha tribal carvings of the cosmic couple, to be positioned at the village gate, to protect from evil spirits. Thailand, 1990.