Tuesday, October 09, 2007

JASPER: 15,800 Words

JASPER is now 25% complete! I've written 5 chapters, with a word count at 15,800 words. I also went back through and edited; I'm still tweaking the last chapter just a little.

So far, the story continues to write itself, moving along quickly and easily as things go. The voice or tone of the prose is distinctive and flows smoothly.

I'm following the basic plan for the story that I came up with in my mind (no written notes!). The plot details are evolving, with surprises along the way, things I never expected, but I just went with the new ideas as they came up. Even with the unexpected twists and turns, everything is still on track according to the larger plan, which means I'm both following a basic blueprint and also allowing for innovation.

One thing that is helping a lot is something I worked on in the second complete draft of THE REFLECTING STONE, which is writing shorter chapters and emphasizing the "cliff-hanger" at the end of each chapter, the suspenseful moment that makes you want to turn the page to find out what happens next. My first draft for TRS featured fewer, longer chapters, running about 10,000 words each. These long chapters were broken into sections, separated by skipped lines. The various scenes were short enough and comparable to typical chapters, but they did not always end with as much suspense, since they were steps along the way to a larger pay-off by the end of the 10,000-word story units. By keeping the chapters shorter, I have to get that punch in for each one, which means a larger peak occurs every few thousand words, instead of every 10,000 words. It's certainly much better to do it this way in terms of building suspense and holding interest.

Still, I think in terms of larger units -- the 12 steps of my 12-step outline, based on the 3-act structure. With Chapter 5 now complete, JASPER stands at the end of Act I, about to embark on Act II (3 steps complete, 9 to go). What is different now is that I'm equating the steps with word count, rather than chapter count. For this novel to come in around 60,000 words, Act I needs to run about 15,000 words: mission accomplished!

Enough about the details of the process. What's the story about?

I'll update my web site with a little more detail....

Glad to be back at work,



Susan Flemming said...

WOW... I wish I had your energy and ability to get words down on paper like that. I'd be done my book in no time, instead of stuck in "mid book" hell.

Anyway... sounds like things are coming along great... keep going. It's inspiring to read about your successes.

Adrian Swift said...

Thank you, Susan, for the kind words of encouragement. They always help, because it's always a struggle, at any speed. I think I'm just now arriving at mid-book . . . .