Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Currently in Chapter 13 (and no, that doesn't bother me a bit), and about 31,000 words. I wrote about 5,000 words yesterday. I'm finally turning the corner toward what was supposed to be the conclusion of Act I. I should get there within the next 5,000 words.

This is turning into another 120,000-word novel, even though I've been trying to keep it pared down. It's not fluff. The story is just that big.

I'm realizing the need to draw a connection between the amount of wordage I hammer out to cover an idea, and the number of ideas I put into my stories. The story is long from conception, although I didn't think it was. I see the reality of bringing the story to life is that it takes a certain amount of space to do that.

So, in the future, maybe I can pare down my outlines, simplify the stories, to have fewer scenes that cover more territory each in terms of story development.

Still, it's fun writing this one, since every chapter brings on something new, and each one ends with a mini-cliffhanger, or bigger cliffhanger, to urge the Reader on to the next one. Doing much better with the chapter lengths now, more in line with what I had always intended, a range of 2,000 to 3,000 typically, not much shorter and not much longer.

Still riding that horse!




Gabriele C. said...

My stories do that, too. Some of them looked like nice little novelettes at first, but soon became 150K+ monsters, judging from the outline/written words ratio.

RomanceWriter said...

Congrats on writing so much yesterday. 5,000 words is no small feat.

Wynn Bexton said...

Hi Adrian, my novel is very long...and getting longer before it will finally end. I know I have to cut lots of pages (probably about 400 pages). But I decided not to get all angst out about the length of it and just let it keep flowing, develop the characters and write it the way I want to. I've already gone over the MSS and in places marked spot that can easily be cut so it won't be that much of a problem when the time comes. I don't want to restrict myself and start letting that internal editor nag at me. When it's done it's done. And that's that. (And pretty soon, I hope!)

Adrian Swift said...

It's nice to know others experience the "balloon effect", too, although I wish none of us did, that we always wrote just as many words as we intended and covered our stories exactly the way we envisioned doing. (Yes, I write fantasy.)

I am finding interesting subplots and scenic byways as the characters progress along the major plot route. Stuff I wouldn't have thought of otherwise, stuff that comes with the flow.

The reason I am so concerned about "wasting words" is that I spent so many years writing so many pages without finishing a single manuscript. I am afraid to let loose and let the story go.

I need to remind myself that the problem during those years of struggle was primarily not being able to see my way through to the end of the story, getting stuck in the middle, a common problem for beginning writers and one I took a long time to get past.

I've solved that problem now, without a doubt. I learned more about Act II and how it all the acts fit together, and I know how this story is supposed to go right through to the ending.

So, I should relax and allow for the wordage in the first draft, and know that once I've explored the story I can go back and rewrite it more concisely, taking the best ideas, and letting go of the rest.

Of course, that means realistically that I will need to write not only a bloated first draft but a complete second draft. It feels terrible to write stuff I know will not be used directly. I am too focused on a usable product. I realize I probably also need to take this path, of two drafts, with my previous novel.

This is a new perspective for me, but one that I've been thinking about for many months. I do a very thorough job of planning, and I have learned to let loose and write a first draft, but I hate to have the first draft require too much more work. I want it as close as possible to a finished product. That's not realistic. I need to allow a first draft to explore the story, then a complete rewrite, a tighter second draft, which might then be ready for editing. My second draft will be what I wish my first draft was. I just need to trust that I can do all this. It's a lot more work, but I don't see how I can get around it. As I've seen, I can't rush progress. Stories develop and need the time to do so. Apparently, they also need the space (words, drafts).

I think back to when I wrote stories as a teenager. I had no problem then just letting my imagination go, letting it lead me wherever it wanted. I will try to focus on that sense of writing as adventure, and reassure myself that the "lost words" are not so much lost as part of a larger exploration, and I need not fear reaching the end this time because I know where the end is and what the big steps are along the way and many of the little ones. I have a solid outline and that guarantees a beginning, middle and end.

Thanks to each of you for sharing your comments. They are encouraging!

Gabriele C. said...

There's a published writer (Tamara Siler Jones) who always writes 300K drafts for a 130K book and then cuts what she calls the 'dangly bits and rotten flesh'. Works for her.

Since I'm a slow writer and edit while I go, I prefer to produce not too much material that needs to be cut. But you are right, stories evolve, and that takes time. And sometimes, words.

RomanceWriter said...

It is completely normal to keep writing and not get to a finished novel for years. It is a huge step to finish that first one. I am still trying to get there myself.