Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Novel Fifth

status: 20,000 words (a milestone!)

I always start a new work with a light heart. 'Bit of a lark,' I say. 'How hard can it be?' I say.

Of course, I always find out!

Those first few chapters roll off, and the going is easy. I feel like I've done so much, but that pride deflates when I realize that all my good work is only 2-3% of the finished novel. Urk.

In these early days I navigate by milestones. First five thousand. First ten. By the time I hit twenty, I've got a feel for the driving conflicts and the key players. It's shaping itself into a book.

20k is a very good day.

It also doesn't hurt that I spent the day at a Wildlife Park and wrote my thousand in about an hour and a half when I got home. The previous day's labor had taken six or seven hours for the same number of words.

Forty thousand tends to be pretty good too, but strangely, around the 50k mark, the milestones started to turn on me. I tend to think I should have gotten further by now, or feel like I'm too close to finished. What if the whole story's only 60k?!

It never is. By that point I know my characters, and can go deeper and deeper with them. I love to write tough, resourceful characters and aim them at each other. They never give up (especially the villains), and before I write 'The End' I can count on a lot more twists and turns than I had planned.

For now, the momentum's humming along. I'm excited to sit down in front of the keys every day, to find out a little more Baker and that daughter of his, about Sarah and her troubles, about how Michelle will deal with the problems I've handed her.

That's why I try to knock out the first draft fast as I can.

3 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend not to think or worry to much about milestones until I'm a fair ways into the book. Probably because I generally pick up momentum as I get into the work and answer a lot of the questions about character and plot that have slowed me down in the first chapters. Right now I'm going pretty slow on my own work but I'm making progress and I try to keep that in mind as I hammer out the relationships.

Steve said...

I don't mind a slow start, as long as I feel that little fire that lets me know I'm onto something real.

I think I tend to be pretty uneven in my overall pace. There are always a few white-hot days where five or eight thousand words come out, and mostly make it into the final draft.

And there are always days where I have no clue what I'm doing, or how to do it.

Those days suck.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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