Repeat Reading

An interesting morning postmortem on last night’s writing. I think it’s interesting that I’ve passed the 100k word mark and the story is showing no sign of slowing. I originally thought that it would run about 125k at most, but plans have a way of changing, I guess.

I’m wondering if, when And/News hits somewhere in my recently speculated word count, I should try as an exercise to edit it down to around 100k. I don’t know what purpose that would serve, though. So far the book seems to have everything in it that needs to be there. It’s also odd that when I sat down to write PH, I knew it would be a long project, knew that it would be about the length that it turned out.

Why the difference? Why is And/News still growing and developing? I’m not sure. Probable explanations:

1) I’m working in a new genre and haven’t developed a feel for length yet. My current projections are a fine length for a thriller.

2) With this book I am trying to commit more to character development. I was tired of my early books being criticized for thin characterization when it was there but cut for the sake of fitting into an editor’s page count. Boddekker had great characters, I think, but nobody read his story. So it’s Round Two.

3) The book is doing what it is supposed to be doing, growing organically, striding toward the length that it should be. Like Abraham Lincoln’s legs, which were long enough to reach the floor, And/News will be the length it needs to be to serve the story.

I suspect that the correct answer is all of the above.

I don’t know why I’m obsessing over word count at the moment. Likely because I’ve had “100,000 Words” pounded into my head for so long. I should stop worry about/obsessing over it and enjoy the rest of the write (I’m saving a vacation day in case I need it for my “last chapter marathon”).

I also realized something else about this project. I think And/News might be one of those books that actually improves on the second reading. This isn’t a negative thing – I think the book will be a great read the first time through.

See, I love films that become a whole different experience when you see them again. I’ve often said I envy people who get to see Casablanca for the first time. But it improves with subsequent viewings, because once you know how things turn out, you can see all of the subplots and intrigues that swirl around Rick’s Cafe and influence the final outcome. A lot of my favorite films are this way; The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Memento. And I bought Donnie Darko so I could try watching it again – it must get better with subsequent viewings (I liked the film overall but felt the ending goes horribly wrong somehow).

When you go back for repeated viewings with these films, you can see all of the clues that point the way to their conclusions, creating an entirely new viewing experience.

I can’t think of many books like that. Jean F. Merrill’s The Pushcart War was that way for me, but that was the difference between reading it as a 5th grader and then reading it as an adult and seeing all the wonderful satire that went over my head the first time.

I didn’t set out to do this. But it occurred to me this morning that And/News had the potential to offer… not a different, but an enhanced reading experience the second time through. And it has less to do with the thriller part of the book as it does the characters that are in it. I’m excited about the prospect.

Is this just my writer’s ego over asserting itself? I’ll have to get the book finished and published. Then you can tell me.

NP – iTunes (Garbage, “Stupid Girl”)


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