Friday, June 01, 2012

Zero To One

Before I get to the meat of this post, I should tell you that I've returned to The Confabulator Cafe this week with a flash fiction piece about dreams and food. If you like it, let me know there, and while you're in the Cafe take a look at all the fiction that's gone up. There are some really entertaining stories (this one may be my favorite) on display and I'm glad to be back there contributing again.

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As I've been working on the edits for the novel I've realized what I did last November and what NaNoWriMo is about for me and probably a lot of people.

I've said before that this was a Zero Draft and I'm understanding now more what that means. In November, during NaNoWriMo, I'm working as fast as I can to just tell the story. Hopefully in a thoughtful, coherent way. 2011 was my fourth try at that and I definitely achieved a new level of coherence and certainly got my confidence up that I could sustain a story for more than 60,000 words, my previous best. The feedback I got on the Zero Draft was amazing, too, and further affirmed my choice to pursue being a novelist.

This month, deep in the editing process, I realized that the 90,000 word Zero Draft is just The Story and not The Book. I'll explain.

November (and half of December) was for discovering The Story, to put all the elements that will make it a full-fledged novel in one place with room for expansion. I did that and I did it pretty well for a change. So this process of 'editing' is more akin to 'rewriting' than anything else. Yeah, there are line edits for word choice and grammar and clarity, but there are cuts and additions that are happening that are expanding the world, the characters and the plot.

I think I mentioned here that I had - at several points in the The Story - told things instead of showing them. As I've come across those sections, I've been unafraid to take a single paragraph of about 250 words and expand it into a full-fledged scene that is so much better than what I had before. These scenes then inspire subtle changes in the manuscript and have even caused me to go back and ensure that those scenes were properly foreshadowed.

Damn, I'm a real writer.

I'm only halfway through the revision from Zero Draft to First Draft and I've killed upwards of 4000 words and the draft is now over 6000 words longer than it was when I finished. At this rate, the book should end up somewhere between 110,000 and 120,000 words in length, which I think is a great length for a story. If it becomes a paperback (cross your fingers!) it would be a little bit over 300 pages. Not too long, not too short.

But now I've got to get back to it. The First Draft has to be finished and feedback sought. I have plans for this book to get out into the world.


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One last thing. If you're seeing this on a reader of some kind, you may not have noticed that I'm opening up for short story commissions. Click the link to read more and if you've got questions about it, let me know.

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