Ladies and gentlemen, I have a novel.
Not a complete novel, mind you. I didn’t somehow magically finish Midnight Never Come when you weren’t looking — though it would be awesome if I had. No, all I’ve done is pass the 40K mark, which is the official lower end for novel-hood, according to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s Nebula award guidelines.
The things you see on the shelf will all probably be 80K or longer (sometimes much longer). My contract specifies 90-110K, though this is generally flexible (within reason). I’ve got my own vague estimate of something between 100-120K, though as I pointed out in that meme, I’m crap at such estimates. In other words, this benchmark means something, but I don’t really know what it is.
But it seemed a good time to make a progress post.
Stuff’s starting to go more seriously ka-splody for the characters. Lune’s in trouble. Deven’s in trouble but doesn’t know it yet. [Names withheld] will be dying soon. Boom!
I can feel that I’m stretching myself with this book. Stretching myself with description: it’s the Renaissance, it’s fae, it’s stuff that demands more verbal embroidery than Doppelganger did . . . but while I stretch for that added detail, I also have to make sure I don’t wander off into elaborate prose that will alienate my readers who appreciate the simpler style. (And for my next trick . . . .) I’m stretching myself with the politics, tossing extra pieces onto my chessboard so this isn’t a story about half a dozen characters with clearly defined and obvious goals. I’m stretching myself with historical research, with depth of backstory, with attempts to make sure the things my characters achieve carry real prices, costlier than the ones I would normally subject them to.
And I need to make sure I don’t stretch so far that I crash and burn. Because I don’t really have the time to pick up flaming pieces of novel and scrub the soot off them for an in-depth repair job. Not if my publisher is going to get this thing on the shelves when they’re hoping to.
But stretching, of course, is good. Because I’m at the point where I look at my own past work and think of it as mediocre — well-loved mediocrity, mind you, and not without its good points, but I Can Do Better. And pushing to do better is how we succeed in this field.
Edited to add: I almost forgot these.
Authorial sadism: Oops, somebody overheard that?
LBR quota: Lately it’s been all about the rhetoric, of a particularly backstabby sort.