70,751 words (still a lot of holes and parts that need fleshing out) 283 pages 25 Chapters
Draft 2.01 – Just like Draft 2.0, but I’m going to have to go over the last third of the novel again, I was really half-assing it, tired. I’m sure a week off and a week of Comic Con will recharge my battery. Draft 2.1 – Double check my notes, make sure every plot point and foreshadow is in there. Draft 2.2 – Fill holes, flesh out parts that need it. Draft 2.3 – Ebonics draft. Double check the dialog. As I listen closely to African-American speech patterns I’m discovering that they’re not to different than rural American speech patterns. They were both born in the South. the difference isn’t the words, but the inflections and I can’t write inflections. Steve got me a book on the African-American accent, it’s a little old, but I hope it’ll help. But I don’t intend to saturate the book with the latest slang, that’s a good way to make it seem quaint to tomorrow’s readers. Draft 2.4 – At this point everything should be in place. Time to start taking out unnecessary words. I’ve already done a bit of this in 2.0 on a sentence by sentence basis. This time I’ll be looking at chapters as whole objects.
I just wrote the final scene of Picking up the Ghost. Total: 68,681 words 274 pages
And I’m still only half way done. I still have a half-dozen scenes that need to be finished and tied together with a subplot. Then there’s probably a hundred or so details that need to be filled in. And that’s just the first draft. From experience I figure the number of words I still need to add will be equal to the number of words that are going to be edited out during the second draft.
If the first draft is challenging physically, the the second draft is challenging emotionally. That’s where I discover some really embarrassing passages. Like a paragraph consisting of five sentences all beginning with “He went…” or a scene where a felt that detail about a character’s appearance was so important that I mentioned it four times in two pages using exactly the same words.
So that I didn’t feel like a total fraud walking around the 2006 Comic Con with my unwarranted Pro Pass I printed up over a hundred of these: Handouts of the first part of the novel in progress. I polished up the 60 pages I had and added an ending that won’t be in the final work. As I’ve been writing parts two and three I’ve realized that a lot of what’s in part one is going to have to change. And there are some style choices in the narrative that are going to be edited out as well.
The final story will have deviated so far from these handouts that I can’t use them to generate interest in the finished product.
I got seventy of these lying around so I’m giving them away. Anyone who wants one post your address in the comments (they’ll be screened) and I’ll send you a copy.
A couple of months ago I set a goal: 5000 words a week until the first draft of Picking Up the Ghost was done. In eight weeks I only made the goal once, last week when there was nothing else to do. And it still took me until Saturday. But even if I’m not meeting the goal I’m still making more progress than I have since Comic Con. Part two is at 21,000 words and even if I don’t have the whole first draft done by March at the very least it’ll be done by the Summer.
Reading a novel is a lot easier than writing one. And buying one and not reading it is even easier still.