Saturday, February 14, 2015

The In-Sight Far-Away Finish Line

Happy Valentine's Day, go see St. Vally's bones, spend time with loved ones platonic, romantic, and familial, all that jazz.

In addition to promoting and updating The Frugal Guide, I've been pouring a lot of time into my next book, Five Suitcases. Ten weeks after really hammering away at writing, I've come to a difficult spot.

The book is about 80% finished by sheer text bulk -- it's actually already longer than The Frugal Guide -- but I still have a few more chapters to write. The difficult part I've reached now is constructing this series of stories and chapters into one cohesive work, and it's a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

When putting the finishing touches on The Frugal Guide, I only had to make sure that my conventions were consistent throughout the book; that a new reader could read the book from e-cover to e-cover and conclude that they were all indeed written by the same person. It was mostly a matter of making sure I always used the same capitalization and naming choices (City Centre, no the), times and prices (24-hour time, 13.00), and abbreviations (Mon, Apr) throughout. The format of my reviews -- name it, review it, make a Bono joke, list the pertinent details -- didn't need much refinement.

Not the case with a creative nonfiction book like this. I've written most of the chapters like long form blog posts, sitting down over a few days, pounding out a few thousand words, and putting it aside to work on the next story. This has worked to get the bulk of my word goal written, to be sure, but now I have to start actually reading the chapters I wrote a month ago to make sure they match in tone with the ones I'm writing now. I'm already starting to notice some things that will need to be adjusted, and I'm sure there will be many more.

I also want references between chapters -- jokes linking situations I've been in and people I've met -- but to do that, I'll have to carefully construct them between chapters to make sure the comedy or tragedy has some punch and doesn't fall flat.

I think the best thing to do now would be to read everything I've written, the whole almost-finished book, taking copious notes as I go. This will help me construct the final few chapters and make the ones I've already written sharper, crisper, and more enjoyable for future readers.

...I hope it ends up being more fun than it sounds.

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