Fifty chapters and 68,679 words . . . that’s the final tally on my first complete novel. That means I wrote 32,674 words since the end of November, when I stopped my NaNoWriMo project because I was on vacation and had no time to write. I wrote most of those 32K words in the last two months.
What you, those three or four who are reading the novel, read in yesterday’s post was written the night before. I started sometime around 11:00pm, and finished around 2:30am. I did one re-read, and it went up yesterday morning.
There are approximately 6,400 words in five chapters – all made up literally a few hours before publication – wrapping up the story, and putting a cap on it. In fact, the last 10-12 chapters or so had each been written one or two days before their individual publication. None are edited beyond one or two re-read before pushing the “publish” button, so I ask forgiveness for any gross errors.
For the record, this novel is longer than originally planned. In fact, the novel was “wrapped up” around the target 50K words, but it argued with me, and convinced me to keep going.
For them interested in such things, anything over 40,000 words is classified as a novel (per this Wiki Entry). The writing podcasts I listen to mention that publishers do not want new authors to go beyond the 80K words, at least not until they know they can sell books weighing as much as a brick; they call them cat-killer books ’cause if you drop the book on a cat, it would likely kill it.
Disclosure: there is a slang name for very thick books, and while I think it’s ‘cat-killers’ I don’t remember for sure, so cat-killer books is what I’m going to call them from now on.
So . . . what did I learn?
- I learned that writing on the fly is a lot of fun (I already knew that, but I learned it again)
- I learned that I could write a novel pretty quickly (I thought I could, but now I know. Can’t speak to the quality, but you can’t have everything)
- I learned that few people are interested in reading my fiction (this is another thing I already knew, but I learned it again)
Do I have advice to aspiring writers?
I should mention that, just to make difficult for me, I wrote this novel in Scriverner, and following a rocky start, I have to say I like it. I could explain why, but I would just confuse people. If interested, go read about it, or better yet, download the trial version.
As I mentioned, I write without a roadmap, outline, plan, or even an idea of where I am going. This is no problem for my short efforts, but I quickly realized I needed to keep track of stuff for the novel. Stuff like names, relationships, places, things, etc. I began with a notebook (I like to write stuff by hand), but in short order I bought Scapple, also from the makers of Scrivener.
Here’s what my Scapple file looks like:
Some of that was used, and some not. As background, it helped me visualize the worlds, motivations, and keep track of things, mostly names. Funny story, at least to me . . . there were a number of times when I wrote “Serenity” in place of “Eternity” for the name of Riso’s ship . . . Each time I wrote something new, I did a search to make sure I was using the right name.
The above diagram grew as I wrote. That means that when I wrote a name or referenced something, I would add a note in the above diagram and create the appropriate association. Some end up being dead branches; I might add a name, and it might never appear again.
Some names are not in there (Lirn, for example) because they came into existence a short time ago, and I am not yet losing my mind (some would beg to differ). By the way, I was halfway through the novel before I found out Scrivener had a built-in name generator. Pretty neat.
Some of the background I thought I would use never came into play. Also, neither Shadow nor The Gray are mentioned in the above diagram. On the other hand, I mention magic, but it turns out to be all technology.
As I have done before for serialized works, I am presenting the entire novel in one password-protected post (same password used for the individual chapters).
Anyone interested in reading it can leave a comment below, and I will e-mail them the password.
Oh yeah . . . there is another thing I learned; writing long stories (novels) by the seat of one’s pants can lead to some stilted passages, plot holes, and stuff that changes when it’s not supposed to. Most notable when comparing the early chapters to the latter ones.
I don’t want to point them out lest it detracts from the enjoyment of reading, but trust me; they are there.
As I said before, I don’t know that I will do anything with this. It’s my estimation that it would require a lot of editing and re-writing to bring it up to a level where I would feel comfortable submitting it to anyone. For now I am content to let it sit. Well, almost letting it sit. Scrivener has an option to output the novel in kindle format, and I’ve loaded the novel to my two kindles . . . I plan to re-read it, and enjoy it without the pressure of figuring out what happens next.
Yes, I like reading my stuff.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.