Introduction to the Accountability Post 2021 Week 39
I’m working on Book 2: Epsilon Eridani’s Pinch 2 points for all six arcs. Dan Wells, in his YouTube video series Dan Wells on Story Structure, called this point the “jaws of defeat.” As with all plot points, it’s important. That means I want the plot points to flow naturally from what came before, and I want them to have maximum dramatic impact. I also want them to be unique and interesting.
How unique is unique enough and how interesting is interesting enough? How much time should I invest in a given plot point to ensure it has that maximum impact, and how would I know if that investment paid off? I think I have answers, and I’ll talk about them after I present my progress for the week.
Accountability Post 2021 Week 39 By the Numbers
During the previous week, I wrote 8,238 words to push the total to 104,241. Here’s a breakdown of how well I did this week:
I wrote on 4 of the 7 days of the week. So there’s room for improvement!
During this period, I wrote 8,990 words to bring the total to 113,231 words. I under achieved on a couple of days, but the numbers actually make it look better than it felt. Missing Saturday, September 25 didn’t help my output, but it was good for the family, so I’ll count that as a win. On the 26th, I had to invest a lot of time researching methods of delivering a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP). It felt like it took forever! But the word count still went north of 2,000 words, so I’ll count that as a win, too.
I know this is a perpetual concern for writers, but I really hope I don’t end up on any kind of law enforcement watch list!
How Much Time Is Enough?
I mentioned I had to invest time in researching NNEMPs. That was actually for one of the Pinch 2s I was working on this week. I also had to invest some time in calculating or approximating the effects of concussive and incendiary grenades on underground structures.
When I built the plot-braiding worksheet, I used what I think of as strategic thinking. It’s a lot like my mindset when I’m working on building out a project plan for software development. When I’m writing individual scenes, it’s a different kin of thinking; it’s much more tactical. It reminds me a lot of the zone my mind enters when I implement a software design — in other words, when I’m actually writing code.
What I don’t want to do is build the plot-level constructs or the scene-level pieces in obvious ways. As I stopped writing to research NNEMPs, I began to wonder how much time I should spend researching non-obvious ways. How much time was enough? How much was too much? Too little?
I think the answer is two-fold. I decided I should research enough to fulfill the vision I have for this story. Then, I should research a little more to challenge my vision for this story to make sure it’s everything I’m capable of writing. I owe it to myself and my readers to do nothing short of my best. The key is in realizing that my “best” will vary over time. I can’t expect myself to write on the level of someone like Peter F. Hamilton. At least not yet! But whatever I am capable of doing, that’s what I want to do.
So, I guess the answer is that it’s a judgement call! One thing is certain, though. I don’t want to deliver anything that’s bland and boring. Since the research is important, I’m going to force myself to be comfortable with spending whatever time I need, even if it lowers my word count for a given week.
Scorecard: Goals for Accountability Post 2021 Week 39
Previous Week’s Goals
- Finish Porter’s Pinch 2: Done!
- Finish Martin’s Pinch 2: Started!
- Start Malhotra’s Pinch 2: Not Started
I had to spend a lot of mental time on Porter’s scenes this week. I had to put him into a position unlike any he’d ever experienced, though he didn’t realize that until the very end. Of the scene, that is! So this moved more slowly than I had anticipated.
As far as Martin’s Pinch 2 went, I had a similar situation with him. He’s mentally in a place he’s never been before, though he’s more familiar with the path leading there than Porter. Still, I’m experiencing what it’s like to inflict terrible things on characters who I like and respect.
Have you ever watched the anime series Re:CREATORS? I hope and pray that scenario never comes to life! If it does, I’m in big trouble.
Next Week’s Goals
Here are the goals I hope to achieve this week:
- Finish Martin’s Pinch 2
- Finish Malhotra’s Pinch 2
- Start Stein’s Pinch 2
Malhotra’s Pinch 2 is going to be a challenge, too. It has huge implications for Book 3, so I have to be careful to lay the groundwork and still achieve the narrative goals of Pinch 2 for this book. But of all the characters who have arcs in this book, she probably gets off the easiest. Though she would probably challenge that characterization!
What Do You Think?
Do you have any tricks to determine how much time you should spend researching versus writing? I’d love to hear about your techniques! Please feel free to drop them in the comments!