Well, it turns out I didn’t finish the novel in a weekend, mainly because stomping around the house in a foul mood does not translate into good creative work. Who knew?
However, I got enough written that Monday morning I looked at the manuscript, looked at the outline, said “holy shit,” and started measuring what I’d written not in terms of words per day, but in terms of how many chapters to go. And the chapters at this end of the book are much shorter, so they started zipping by — finish one chapter, get halfway through the next, all in one morning, then finish that chapter and write an entire new one, etc. In terms of wordcount, it probably isn’t up there, but right now, who cares? Novel’s done!
Well, the first draft is. And the first third needs to be wrenched into place with the new changes I cooked up halfway through. And at least two chapters have to go. And . . . you get the idea. But the draft is done. Now I’d normally sit back and not think about anything for a little while, but I’ve had a couple of short story ideas that are starting to clamor now that I have writing space again.
And speaking of short stories, I’ll have a new one out next week in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. “Salvage” is something of a follow-up to “A Serpent in the Gears,” as that teaser shows, but it’s a very different story. (Cue the Evil Author laughter.)
Due to Hurricane Irene, the signing at Flights of Fantasy has been canceled. I know that in terms of what Irene might bring, this is pretty mild, but I’m still more than a little cranky about it. I was really looking forward to being there, to meeting Lena Roy, to reading my work and seeing new people . . . and now I’m stuck at home, where the rain has just now started.
At least I have something to keep me occupied. I’ll finish up some of the administrative work for this year’s Viable Paradise workshop, and then…hm.
You know, I wonder if I can finish this novel in a weekend? It’s not like I’m going anywhere.
Still drafting away, though now I’ve reached the point of the novel that can be summarized as “Everything Goes To Hell.” The end is in sight.
However, I have some news that has absolutely nothing to do with slogging through first drafts! On Sunday, August 28, I’ll be part of a joint author signing at Flights of Fantasy Books and Games in Albany, NY with YA author Léna Roy! If you’re in the Albany area on the 28th, why not come and stop by? I promise not to bite. Any suggestions on what I ought to read? New work? Short stories? Some Evie-related goodness?
Now, back to the draft. And to the suspiciously appropriate music that iTunes keeps choosing when I put it on shuffle.
Averaged about 2500 words/day this week, more if you count the lump I wrote waaaay back when and finally was able to drop into context. It’s a little daunting to realize how long ago that was written. Still, it fits, it’s awesome, and it means I’m closer to the end.
The trouble now is that I’ve reached the part of the book that I didn’t outline in much detail, even though I knew what must happen here in order to get to the Big Fun Splody Bits. The detailed chapter outline that had step-by-step explanations of what happens for the earlier chapters has degenerated into “through hospital, find THINGY (decide this later!) then FOOM! and the door.” Not exactly the most illuminating description.
The obvious solution is to take some time to outline the chapters longhand, and I’ve done that for the last couple of them. Trouble is, when I’m writing at this speed I can easily outstrip even the longhand sections, and unless I want to stop for the day early I sometimes have to charge on ahead. Charging on ahead, though, usually means I get stuck, as was the case with this last chapter.
It doesn’t help that I’m still figuring out who knows what when and who decides what when, which means that until I get that skeleton in place, the end of the book will have characters doing things for seemingly flimsy reasons. This is why I don’t show the first draft to anyone. (That, and there’s usually too much of my id in it.)
So that’s what the weekend will be for: outlines that, in theory, will bring the end into focus. And, if I get those done, I get to noodle around with some new ideas.
A really good week: 2800 words/day, on average, mainly because of a couple of very good days. I’m pausing mid-chapter, but intend to get some writing done tomorrow (hey, last Saturday yielded 3000 words) and so have stopped just before a nice hand-to-hand fight, so I won’t be sitting around at the beginning of the writing time trying to figure out what comes next. Pausing mid-scene like this does give it a somewhat weird, rollercoaster feeling when I reread the first draft — a cliffhanger every X words isn’t exactly a good thing, but it does work to keep my writing momentum up in this stage.
In lieu of summarizing what I’ve written this week, here’s a look at my thought process while writing a chapter.
- Why didn’t I outline this more clearly? Dammit, there’s gotta be more to this chapter than just “and then the shit hits the fan.”
- Who’s got the [redacted]? Okay, so [character] had it last chapter, better mention it so we don’t think it got lost in the fracas at the end of the last chapter.
- Heh. “Fracas.”
- Good, good, creepy . . . waitaminute, why am I writing this scene as if we’ve moved to Silent Hill? Dammit, I don’t want my characters to be in Silent Hill! The last thing these guys need is Pyramid Head lurching around a corner at them. That’s the trouble with dipping into the well of one’s subconscious; sometimes there’s stuff floating in it.
- How long till the ninjas? How long till the ninjas now? How about now?
- You know what would be great? If [character] manages to do [cool thing.] What would he need for it? Not the [redacted], but the [trivial thing] . . . oh hey, I had him taking it away from the abandoned building before! Sometimes my muse is smarter than I am.
- NINJAS WHERE?
- I’ll need to renooberate the descriptions here, given that this is happening during a cloudy night. Some things shouldn’t be visible.
- Okay, fine, the necessary details to set up later events are now added. Time for ninjas!
- I really shouldn’t feel sorry for my characters, but I’ve really put these guys through a lot. Poor little muffins.
- Huh. Guess I didn’t need the [redacted] at all.
As you can see, this is probably the least serious way to go about this sort of thing. But having this sort of meta-commentary in my head is useful not just for distraction, but for how I’ll think about it when I go back through the draft.