Monday, December 02, 2013

Every novel is a learning experience, especially for the writer

I'm up to 44,000 words in my current work in progress, the fantasy novel The Company of Seven, which puts me about halfway through the first of three acts. I was originally thinking this novel would be about 120,000 words, which might still be possible with re-writing and editing on my part, but I'm leaning towards it being more like 160,000.

If that turns out to be the case, it will be the longest single work I've produced. The current record is my novel Ghosts of the Asylum at more than 110,000 words. Most of my novels are in the shorter range, about 65,000 to 80,000 words.

The potential length of The Company of Seven has caused me some concern. I've wondered if I'm letting the story become too unwieldly, and if I'm falling into the beginning writer's trap of not cutting out your darlings.

But I don't think so. My scenes aren't gratuitous. I'm not throwing in a scene simply because I think it's "cool." Each of my scenes have a purpose that in some way furthers the plot and/or character development, usually leaning toward the plot side of things.

I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog that this is the first novel I've worked on in more than a year, and it's my first Kron Darkbow novel in nearly two years, and I'm enjoying getting back into the world of Ursia and its characters. I've come to recognize that I need to let myself have a little fun with this one, and I don't feel guilty about that.

To that end, I'm not worrying about the length. It will be what it will be.

When I've started a longer project in the past, I've usually known within 10,000 words or so what the eventual length would be. This time, not so much, but that's okay. I'm not restraining myself as much with this novel as I have with others, and that feels good to me.

It's part of my learning experience as a writer.

If I fail, if the novel turns out to be just awful, then I'll know to go a different route from then on. If it works out, I can follow a similar path in the future while looking for other forks in the literary road.

Another thing I've found of interest is the resonance of strong characters. The emotional weight of a truly strong character can stretch far past his or her initial appearance, possibly long after their use in the story, even long after their fictional death.

In this case, I'm speaking of my character Belgad the Liar.

My barbarian crime lord Belgad was the main antagonist in my first novel, City of Rogues, and he remained an antagonist through most of the rest of The Kobalos Trilogy. The Company of Seven will be my third Ursia Chronicles novel since that trilogy, basically another trilogy, and Belgad has not made a single appearance, yet the character continues to influence the stories indirectly, his name coming up more than a few times.

Belgad has become part of the back story for a number of my characters, and he was such an important figure that he had a big influence upon the history of some of my fictional locales. His very lack of making an appearance has influenced much.

I kind of like that.

And yes, for you Belgad fans, I do have plans for him. It'll just take a while to get back to him.

So, where were we? What was my point?

Oh, yes. The learning experiences of writing a novel.

I'm writing, I'm learning. I make plans, some that fall through and some that succeed. I hope my current work succeeds, especially as I'm taking some chances with it, ones I normally would not take.

But we'll see.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Good to take chances. I did something similar in the most recent story I finished. Taking chances that is. I sent it to my writing group so I'll see what they have to say.