Fifty more to go. (Thereabouts.)

Word count: 91,133
LBR census: Some rather bloody rhetoric.
Authorial sadism: You’re the one who said it, Irrith. And you’ll remember that by the end of the book.


I may be semi-scarce for about the next month, and as I’ve said to a couple of people lately, I can sum up the reason why quite succinctly:

We’ve secretly replaced Marie Brennan’s usual novel-writing process with that of another author. Let’s see if she notices!

Why, yes. Yes, I have. >_<

I know plenty of writers who produce multiple drafts: first they write a vague, bumbling one full of plot hooks that don’t go anywhere and ideas that get jammed in willy-nilly two thirds of the way through, etc. Then, having figured out what the book is about, they go back and write a second draft (sometimes more), getting closer each time to the target. And that’s fine. It works great for them. It would probably even work great for me, so long as I did one very important thing: budgeted enough time before the deadline to allow for multiple drafts.

But I didn’t, because almost all of my previous ten novels* have conformed to my usual declaration, “I tend to write fairly clean first drafts.” Doppelganger, for example, underwent only three substantive changes on its way to publication: I deleted the opening scene, rearranged the early chapters so they cut between Miryo and Mirage more frequently, and unkilled a character for use in the sequel. Everything else was polishing.

This book . . . not so much. I could speculate for hours as to why that’s the case, but the upshot of it all is that I’m throwing out and replacing a much larger quantity of wordage than I’m accustomed to doing. My killfile, wherein I keep everything paragraph-sized or larger that’s been cut from the book, is twenty-five thousand words long. All of it deserves to be there; the sections and scenes I’m replacing them with are about 230% better than my first attempts. But that’s 25K of book I’ve written without getting any closer to the end.

So what I’ve been doing for a week and change, and will be doing for about another month, is kind of sort of writing my second draft while writing my first. That is, I’m slapping 1500 words minimum onto the back end of the book, heading just as fast as I can for the finish line, while also revising 4000 words minimum in the existing text. On the days when that means polishing, life’s good. On the days when it’s actually 2K of new scene plus 2K of polishing, life’s harder.

As you might imagine, this is a little tiring.

But hey, live and learn. I’ve gotten careless about leaving myself a margin of safety; if I’m intending to write a 140K book, then I give myself five months to do it and assume that’ll work out, probably with time to spare. I’ll know better for the Victorian book. I’ve already worked out my schedule for that one, and it involves a big honking overbudget of time just in case that one goes more like this book has. And in the meantime, I’ll just keep my nose to the grindstone, and pray I still have a brain left when all of this is done.

*The sole exception to the above rule was #4, where I wrote one draft that wasn’t so much vague and bumbling as Utter Crap, and then threw it out and wrote something radically different and thirty thousand words longer. But I wasn’t under a deadline then.

0 Responses to “Fifty more to go. (Thereabouts.)”

  1. scribble_myname

    You sound like me. That’s my usual writing process: write fairly clean, dump a scene or two, rearrange something perhaps, and polish the sucker up. OR I write like your delightful footnote: write something I absolutely hate and dump the whole thing for something new.

    Blessings on your journey through a new process. Though I must admit, I laughed through most of your description. Truly, the joys and pains of being a writer… Totally, totally worth it.

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