One week behind schedule for Camp Nanowrimo, I have finally completed a first draft novel, tentatively titled Red Soil Through Our Fingers! This is a major milestone for me. I’ve tried many times, via Nanowrimo and otherwise, to finish even one draft of a novel, but have never made it through the “murky middle”. Having made it to the other side, wow. It really does get better after roughly the 80% mark. Here’s what it means for what I’ve got and where it’s going.
First, a confession. My 40,689 words of agricultural space tragedy (actually a fairly accurate term) is not really a complete draft. It’s more like a complete idea, or a really extensive outline. Here is my quick assessment of what I really have on my hands:
- While almost all of the scenes I wrote in this draft will be part of the storyline of the novel, only a few of them will actually appear in it. Many constitute back story, side story, and/or worldbuilding to the arc I really want to focus on. That means writing whole new scenes that are part of the main arc, using the source material I just created for myself as a base.
- Most if not all of the earlier scenes would need to be almost completely rewritten, even if kept in the novel. This is because I realized several important things about the characters, world, story, etc as I was writing. The result is that segments near the beginning are in some cases wildly inconsistent and even contradictory with segments near the end.
- Many of the “scenes” are actually summaries of what needs to happen, not full scenes with action, dialogue, and conflict. They will need to be fleshed out and expanded into real scenes at some point. But its a complete, cohesive idea from end to end!
All this leads me to the conclusion that, the second draft (or first complete draft) will likely be much longer than 40,000 words. Which is probably a good thing, since 40k is only the minimum word count to be classified as a novel by SFWA, and I believe most novels fall in the range of 80k-120k words. Meh. We’ll see what the story ends up being. My goal is to have a second complete draft ready for beta readers by the end of this year.
But right now, I’m going to let it rest for awhile and work on something else. All four of Crossed Genre’s remaining submission themes for 2014 are awesome, and I’ve got a short story idea that could fit into any one of those. I’ve also been dying to try my hand at fantasy or space opera. The former would likely involve South Asian mythology and cosmology. The latter would likely involve (more) realistic space physics. Or, I could revise one of those short stories that’s been languishing in circulation for months…
We’ll see. I think for now I’m going to have lunch and read a book.