Writing Progress: Week Ending September 8, 2012

I didn’t make my official “goal” wordcount for this week, but it was still the best week in writing I’ve had in many weeks:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 1,367 words

Grand Total: 1,367 words

And this was despite several factors against my having a good week for writing (including ongoing work on the Home Project, which doesn’t look likely to abate any time soon, simply because even after the conclusion of the main part of the Home Project, there are still so many little and medium-sized things that need to be done to finish the job).  I managed to do so well mainly through the mechanism of staying up way, way too late on Friday night, which is not a feat I want (or am able) to frequently replicate, as my body can’t seem to handle a lot of sleep deprivation.  (And besides… I’ll get plenty of that sleep deprivation again soon enough, though I’m certain not to get any writing out of that.)  I expect the next two weeks will be substantially worse on wordcount, due to some significant family engagements.  Should be fun and happy but also very busy. 

While my writing last week was notably productive with respect to the wordcounts of the last several weeks, it does come with an important caveat: this is likely one of the few times I’ve come away from what I’ve written knowing already that I will probably be deleting a large chunk of what I wrote: by my best-guess, probably some 300-400 words worth.

It’s unusual, when I’m editing a story, for me to delete large chunks of wordcount, or to reduce the length of a manuscript.  Typically when I edit I’m either rearranging material I’ve already written, rewording what I’ve written, or adding brand new material.  So the end result is most often a longer manuscript than what I started with in the edit phase.

But I also haven’t tackled a project of this size and complexity in years.  So at first it might seem surprising that I’d already be thinking of such a large edit here, but everything about this process is likely to be surprsing.

In this particular case, I was having trouble with a transition.  (I’m sensing a theme here.  Learning to handle transitions with more grace and style might be one of the major skills I’m developing with this project.)  The characters were waiting for the arrival of something they’d recently spotted coming their way.  (To wit: the aforementioned airship.)  They didn’t really have the option of escaping (if such were their desire): the airship was faster than they were, and they are located in a vast, featureless desert.  But there was an interminably long time between their first spotting the airship and its inevitable arrival.  At the time I wrote it, I was operating under the assumption that the airship would’ve been between a half hour and an hour away.  A little research on airships and some number crunching suggested it would actually have been about 10-15 minutes away.  Either way, they had some time to kill.  And I had to try to kill it gracefully in the story.

Which was painfully hard to do.  What came out was boring, pointless, and didn’t really advance the story.  It was such that, immediately upon completing that section and having written the arrival of the airship (which I liked very much), I stopped and commented on my manuscript: “I may have to delete this entirely.”

My plan was to let it stand and keep chugging on with additional wordcount and let my hypothetical future alpha and/or beta readers (someday) help identify the problems with the passage (if any).  But by the next day I’d had enough time to think about what I’d written that I’d figured a way possibly to fix it without waiting.  So I may do just that.  I’ve done enough edits and fixes on my manuscript already that I’ve created an extra folder named “Draft 2” so I can keep track.  With this problematic little passage the only thing I wanted to keep was the description of the airship when it’s finally close enough to make out the details, and I think I can fix that.  Or I might still just chug ahead: forward momentum has been elusive in this project of late.

Well, that’s all I can say about my week in writing.  How was yours?