Most years I’ve stopped dead in my tracks once November ended and NaNoWriMo finished. This year, I’m still at it. Which, I think, says something.
I’ve discovered that my Muse works softly. If I don’t want to write on the novel, if I keep finding other things to do, it means I’ve DONE SOMETHING WRONG. Now, at no point does little miss Muse tell me, I dunno, what the SOMETHING WRONG is. That I have to figure out on my own. But when I do, the writing goes better.
I have finished rewriting my opening chapter not two or three minutes before coming to write this essay. This will be the second finished rewrite and I think the last. Everything I wanna say in the open is there, it seems gripping, and let’s go. Right? Right.
The important thing, though, is the size. First time through, it took too long to get where I needed to be. I liked what I wrote, don’t get me wrong, but for an opening chapter dealing with what looks like a side (if important) character, it was too much.
Worse, it blathered on about the magic system. While setting up the rules of the Wizard Game is important in any Fantasy, I think later is better than sooner. Not much later, mind, but not in the first few pages.
On this there were two characters whose parts, sadly, were cut. Not quite Character Assassination, but almost. Almost.
But hovering over all my thoughts is this: I want to be published. New writers don’t always get away with the novel lengths published authors do. One book I read recently said that a beginner should shoot for 80,000 word. Another said that fantasy novels (my genre) can get away with longer manuscripts. Say somewhere in the area of 120,000 words.
Now I know these are ballpark figures, at best. I know the range can grow or stretch determined by what the market is. I know that if the story’s good enough, the publishers are going to take it no matter what the length. I know that I should be more concerned with letting my novel be what it wants to be, rather than the mechanics. At least while writing it.
I also know EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING INTO THE NOVEL. It’s going to take a lot of words. If I can do the same quality stuff in less space, then I’m going to be better off in the long run.
So, how did I do?
First time through the opening chapter (part or section, I dunno) consisted of 50 Manuscript Pages (MPg for short). As you can see, that’s a pretty big first chapter. Well, for anyone who isn’t Robert Jordan, maybe.
In any case, according to the LapDevil word count, that’s 12,378 words. Assuming I’m going for 120,000 words, that about 10% of the novel on the first chapter alone. With a ten-year gap between chapters that seemed… a little much.
With this rewrite I have it down to about 7 MPgs. 1,901 words. That’s a little over 85% of the wordage gone.
Yeah, yeah. Cullen and his calculator. I hadn’t used it in a while and wanted to have a little math fun, okay? It was the worst five minutes of my life.
That aside, I now have 43 less MPgs, and a good feeling about putting all of my action bits in the story.
Assuming I don’t get logorrhea again.
Of course, the sad thing is that instead of being about 10.3% of the way through, I’m now about 1.5%.
And to think, I wouldn’t know if I HADN’T DONE THE MATH!
Excuse me. I need to find a corner to cry in.