swan's sililoquy

A bad case of writer's blog

Deadlines

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So… I missed my deadline, but only by a few days – three to be exact.

I had intended to have Draft 2 completed by March the 10th at 100,000 words. Well I hit my target and then I went through it.
Problem?
Not really, possibly. Maybe??
Either way it’s a good problem to have.
But I realised that I couldn’t finish the book in 100,000 words. So Draft 2 is still a way off from being complete.
Currently I’m sitting on ~111,000 words, and by my calculations I probably need another 40 k to tie it all up (at a minimum).
Which is yet more months of work, and that’s just to get the basic structure in place, and by basic structure I mean the bare bones, and by the bare bones I mean a list of scenes, a framework, dialogue, and set outcomes i.e. cause and effect.

The reason?
I chose a tricky genre to write in, especially to start writing in.
Sigh.
In hindsight I probably should have stuck with the first book I started writing. Far simpler in scope and less labour intensive. By that I mean it’s a straightforward Thriller / Sci-Fi. Think of something along the lines of World War Z i.e. it’s a world we all know, current day, the rule set is the same, just add Zombies.
In this type of book / genre, most of the work is already done for the author, the leap of faith / suspension of disbelief required by the reader isn’t as great. In fact it’s that little twist on the familiar that makes these types of stories so interesting.
Note: I don’t have zombies in mine; it’s just a convenient comparison.
However I put that first book on hold at 30,000 words and then went and travelled down the High Fantasy route (think George R. R Martin).
Or for those interested in a bit more info – See here

Now High Fantasy is a bit more complicated for several reasons.
Primarily – There’s a lot of ‘world building that has to go into fiction of this genre and it makes it a hard balancing act between story, pace, style, and exposition (exposition is the process of describing the world, i.e. When the protagonist jumps in a matte black four door SUV that he bought a year ago, its got decent mileage, the passenger seat has a coffee stain and the old kid seat is still in the boot, its raining, the engine is already on idle blah blah blah = Exposition. It’s not necessarily story, but its part of the setup).

For those unfamiliar with the term World Building– See here
In effect, you’re trying to establish a whole bunch of new rules (how the world works), without killing the pace too much. Believe me, it’s harder than it sounds.

On the whole High Fantasy books are longer, slower, especially at the start, and tend be part of a series – Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time, Lord of the Rings etc.

The second issue I faced is expected ‘completed’ book length, or word count as the effective measure.
Standard submission lengths for manuscripts tend to fall in the 90 – 110,000 word range (about 400 pages in paperback). Publishers hesitate with longer works, especially with ‘unknowns’.
Hello yours truly.
But it’s also somewhat genre dependent, and there are always exceptions.
Considering I don’t think I can finish this story in less than 150,000, I worry a little… but I don’t see much of a way around it.
There is a story to tell and it’s not finished yet. Hell, it’s at about 66%.

To put it in context, here are some popular books and word lengths:

Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k

Joe Abercrombie – First Law (& standalones)
The Blade Itself: 191.2k
Before They Are Hanged: 198.3k
Last Argument of Kings: 234.1k

Stormlight Archives – Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings: 387k

A Song of Ice And Fire – George R. R. Martin
A Game of Thrones: 284k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 404k
A Feast for Crows: 300k

King Killer Chronicles – Patrick Rothfuss
Name of the Wind – 259,000
Wise Man’s Fear – 399,000.

So even at 150,000 words, I’ll still be at the shorter end, granted the second book in the series is already sitting at 70k…

In the meantime, I’ll just write until it’s done and see where it ends up. Deal with the stress / panic as it arises, and then start cutting again. Then again, and again, until it’s ready.
Disclaimer- Writing and editing are somewhat iterative processes.
The only other thing that keeps me sane at those points is that as frustrating and slow as it may seem, it never feels like work. Which tells me I’m on the right path, and that’s enough for now.

All it means is that the timeline isn’t as quick as I would like and I just have to be a bit more ‘patient’.
But I’ve made progress in other areas, the writing course / workshop is going well, I got my ‘author’ photo done, I’ve started incorporating feedback from my Alpha readers (pretty sure I owe them presents when this is all done), and they’ve already pointed out some of the flaws and traps I fall into too easily.

So to my Alphas – Thanks again, it gets better with your input!
I was going nowhere until you started helping, now it’s like a gang bang, (we’re getting shit done).

aB2aarH

And ultimately, I’m making progress.

Slowly, but progress is progress and I’m a hell of a lot further along that I was two months ago, I can almost see the light.

Almost.

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