The New Book and How I'll Write It

I've reached something of a milestone with the new book - the 20,000 word mark. Since I normally aim for roughly 40,000, I've hit the halfway point. The crux, if you will. Or possibly the pivot. By any calculation, the middle.

Thinking of it as a middle is nice. It makes it seem like I'm into the home straight. It's all downhill from here. As good old Treebeard would say (or possibly not), the second half of a book, like travelling south, always feels like going downhill.
Treebeard as illustrated by Inger Edelfeldt
The action has happened / is happening. There's a problem and it need fixin'. There's a world for it to take place in and an end, eventually, in sight. I'm feeling good about this book.

In fact, the way I work, there's probably only about 10,000 words left until Untitled Draft One is finished.

But Simon, 20,000 + 10,000 is only 30,000. Silly.

For a while this has been how I work. My first draft is way short of the final length. The first run through, for me, is a chance to get the plot points in place. Think of it as a bare bones outline - the wire beneath what will eventually become the float - that I can use to check everything works. 'Beginning, middle, and end' may well be a cliched and ridiculed approach to what is in reality a complex and involved process, but having a decent pace and knowing that everything fits is important. I'll write the book, and it'll be short. 10,000 words short - or more - if it has to be.

Then I'll set it aside. A lot's been written about setting aside a first draft to 'cool', and all of it, probably, is true. In my case, it's also a good time to mull over the general feel of the thing.

I'll eventually read the whole thing again, and this is where the new words will come in. Sentences will need extra words; paragraphs, extra sentences; chapters, extra paragraphs. Adding 10,000 words by adding small clumps here and there? Easy. Fill the balloon with helium, then see how big it is.

File:Konstruktion des Freiballons LA2-Blitz-0246 blank.png

Once that's done we're moving towards a workable book. Let is sit and cool again, and then attack with fresh vigour. This time, edits. Cut words down. Trim the fat and kill your darlings, kind of thing. Hand in hand with this is a broader check. Does it still make sense? Is it interesting every chapter? Do the characters' voices remain consistent? 

The introduction will almost certainly need redoing. After spending months with the characters, I can write them more naturally, and so rewriting the first few lines now makes it much more convincing. The first baby-deer-trying-to-walk attempt will be replaced.

But ... all that's still to come. For now I have 20,000 words, and hopefully some of them are good.


1 comment:

  1. I am so FREAKING excited to hear that your next book is on the way! :D