Revising Leah

June 14, 2008

Progress Report #3: Oasis

Filed under: Uncategorized — J.M. Reep @ 3:08 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve spent the last two days working on chapter 17, which is, by far, the longest chapter in the novel at 23 pages. In the 1996 draft, chapters 16 and 17 were combined, making it an even longer chapter than it is now. Obviously, that original chapter is now two. If I could, I’d like to break chapter 17 down even further, but there isn’t really a point in those 23 pages where inserting a chapter break would seem natural. The whole thing is a single, ongoing scene that takes up a few hours of the characters’ time.

What makes the chapter tolerable for the reader, I hope, is that it is mostly dialogue. Indeed, in a novel that is mostly prose, it’s a kind of oasis in which we find characters chatting and joking and arguing. The chapter is set at David Parks’ house. He and his history report partners, Leah among them, are meeting on the Sunday before their project is due to try and put the project on video. In terms of the story, the chapter features the climax of David and Heather’s subplot. Their relationship experiences a crisis, and Leah has a front row seat.

I’ve cut very little out of chapter 17, mostly because I like the dialogue and because all the events in the chapter flow together quite well. It may be the longest chapter, but it also has the most humor — and the most melodrama.

So I’m well past the halfway point in this stage of my revising project. I have only seven more chapters to go. I can’t say for sure when this phase will be completed, but it looks like I am on track to finish by the end of the month.

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3 Comments »

  1. […] Progress Report #3 Indeed, in a novel that is mostly prose, it’sa kind of oasis in which we find characters chatting and joking and arguing. The chapter is set at David Parks’ house. He and his history report partners, Leah among them, are meeting on the … […]

    Pingback by 3 Of A Kind » Blog Archive » Progress Report #3 — June 14, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

  2. I do not believe that people know how difficult dialogs can be to write; and always a challenge for me. Your post are most helpful and your commitment in updating it is appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Annie O.

    Comment by cedarstreetwriter — June 14, 2008 @ 8:45 pm

  3. What I like about writing dialogue is that there aren’t any rules–or that the rules for dialogue are very different than for prose. When I write narrative prose, I have to worry about complete sentences, pronoun-antecedent agreement, parallelism, and so on. When I write dialogue, I’m suddenly free to write however I want because when people speak, they speak in sentence fragments and slang and non-verbal grunts and sighs. Trying to recreate that sort of language use on the printed page is an exciting challenge. So long as what the character says is consistent with that character’s voice and personality, the writer can do whatever he or she wants–misspell words, make up words, repeat words and phrases over and over again, etc. It’s a lot of fun.

    Comment by jmreep — June 15, 2008 @ 11:29 am


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