Wednesday, January 12

A first novel: The first week of writing

I have a strategy in writing this novel. Five days a week, the five days I go to McDonald's, I write a thousand words. They are not good words. I write them as quickly as I can. At longest, when I dawdle to check articles on The Millions and links on Bookslut, it takes me ninety minutes to finish my thousand words. Characters are introduced and do some things. The plot moves along. Sensory details, rich dialogue, powerful characterizations are left for later. There will be time enough when I better understand the whole of the novel and am not concentrating so much on creating the foundations of the thing in the first place.

The sixth day, my first day off, is an opportunity to read what I have written. It is an opportunity to confirm that the thrust of the story remains true and to make necessary corrections and adjustments before I drive the novel into a blind alley, pursued by hooligans.

The seventh day, my second day off, is a day of rest. It is a time to concentrate on other things, on short stories left uncompleted but tantalizingly near their end.

This strategy has left me with 10,772 words as of last night. That makes these beginnings of a novel the longest piece of fiction I have ever written. I have a short story that recently passed eight-thousand words but is unlikely to go much farther. Few other of my stories have even breasted five-thousand words. That's exciting.

I still have no idea how long to expect the whole. It was taken this long for the Lochilang'or family to leave Nakuru and begin their journey to Pokot. Maybe they will stay there for twenty-thousand words or so before leaving for Nairobi. That final city ought to occupy some fifty-thousand words or so, and all those are fast words.

For a point of extrapolation, on my first day off from work, I began rewriting a single paragraph of about a hundred words until it was approaching eight hundred words. It would not surprise me to see this all go past two-hundred-thousand words when all is done. That's a long way yet. I'll be pleased to be halfway there by the end of this summer.


Joan H said...
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Joan H said...
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Zach Olson said...

Way to go, man. I've read some more of your stuff on here and it just keeps getting better. I think that you've really got what it takes.