Monday, June 06, 2005

Finished with the start

I wrote this yesterday:

Well, I’ve written 32 pages (give or take—I’m not quite sure how much was done at that point) since my last post about the book, and the skeleton of the story is done, along with most of the muscles and tendons, and a good deal of skin. There’s a very satisfying sense of closure now that I know exactly how it ends. Add that to the short appendix that I wrote to figure out the mechanics and rules of the world I’ve created, which I’ve adapted for the book, and it’s 147 pages (not counting the title page). With the new math, that adds up to 36,750 words. Not counting the appendix, it’s 35,500 words, or just over my original goal.

Word tells me the whole thing is just under 30,000 words.

The reason I could do so much work in such a short time is twofold: I worked almost constantly over the last week (I didn’t take a shower today—don’t worry, I didn’t go anywhere or see anyone—and I hardly ate anything), and I planned the last story arc extremely well in advance. In retrospect, I’m glad I did all the planning or I would have screwed things up. The story near the end was very difficult, and had to happen in a particular order.

This makes the whole thing a particularly short novel, by modern standards (although I believe that older novels are, in general, much shorter). This is actually a good thing because shorter books are easier to get published, and this being my first book I have a large hurdle to jump ahead of me. Everything I write (with the exception of this post, it seems) from legal memoranda to essays to, apparently, novels, ends up being short. I don’t like to put a lot of bullshit in them.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. I have a whole page of notes I wrote down on things I need to change or add to earlier parts of the story, and it’s still possible that I could go back and add another scene or two. After that I’ll have to put it down for a few weeks to a month and then come back to it to edit and just make it better. Then I’ll be off to find other writers to help me edit (of course it would be reciprocal) and, after applying some of the changes that they suggest or getting ideas from their suggestions, then I’ll wait another month or two before coming back to edit it again. You have to wait between edits, and especially between the initial writing process and editing, or you won’t find anything that would make it better.

One change I will make is switching all the Bible quotes to the King James Version. Although I found the copyright information on the New International Version, the Catholic Church figures large in the story and it’s more likely that they would use the older KJV.

One thing that I expected from the beginning, but is still interesting, is that each successive major story arc (I split it into three “books”) takes fewer pages than the one before. This is partially because there is less need for character development and staging, which results in fewer scenes that do little to advance the central storyline. Also, the first story arc includes the entire short story that started the whole thing, and that particular work contains a lot of really cool stuff that does a lot for characterization and setting the mood, but does nothing to advance the plot. Perhaps I will add some of this kind of thing to the rest of the book.

If I ever write another book, and I intend to, I will probably do extensive planning beforehand, detailing characters and their habits, locales, and every scene in the story before I start to write. I believe that this will alleviate the need to dedicate large shots of time to the actual writing process, and it may allow me to type the story rather than handwriting it and then retyping it. It may also allow me to plan a longer book.
As a side note, assuming this book is published, then my next book will be a sequel. In the interim, I may find the energy to write short stories, but I plan to read a lot in the next few weeks to re-energize the right half of my brain.

If anybody knows of cool quotes or a good website with cool quotes please let me know. I’ve put 18 quotes in the book (I need one more and there’s actually room for three on top of that at the moment), but 12 of them are from the Bible, including something like the last 9. I’d like to mix it up a little more, even though I am pretty much married to a few of them.

In other news, I’m starting my new class the day of this posting: Corporations. This is the major reason that I worked so hard to finish the story (10 hours this Sunday to crank out 18 insane pages—it was just like when you read a book and you can’t put it down when you get close to the end). So far, the reading assignments for the class are quite dull, and I could never be an accountant. People think lawyers are tricky . . . .

Now, as I type this, I’m freaking tired and my shoulders are sore from writing by hand and leaning over the computer all day. I think I’ll retire about an hour earlier than usual. By the way, the new Family Guy was funny, but I get the impression that they were trying to stretch the episode out with all the songs.

By the way, this post is 1,000 words in both actual word count and manuscript format after I add this phrase to make that true.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kelly: I've used this quote site on occasion and it was pretty useful

    Know what you're talking about when it comes to writing it is very hard - which is probably why so few make a dent in the market, like Salmon you reckon, only the strongest get the to the top of the stream?

    Love your comments come see me when you can