Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Trade in Betrayals--done!

Late Thursday night I wrote the final words of the first draft of A Trade in Betrayals, the third (and likely final) book in the Arcist Chronicles. It feels like the book is...really good. The beats work and build well. The connections within the novel and to the earlier books are the right balance of surprising and fitting. It feels like a powerful and fitting conclusion to the story.

It may not still feel that way later, when it comes time to revise and polish it, but for now I'm not just satisfied but excited for this book and the chance people will have to read it.

I always take a few months off a project like this after finishing the first draft. That gives my mind the space it needs to come back to it fresh. So I'll be working on other things now, maybe some short stories, maybe some poetry, definitely some submissions/queries being sent out.

But I'll take a moment to look back first at how the writing went. Since it was a novel that started as a NaNoWriMo project, I'll look mostly at word count and how the writing went day by day. But before November arrived, I had done some planning. Book 2, The Roots of Betrayal, was sent to my publisher in September. That book left a lot of things open that I knew I would have to address. Most of those I didn't know how exactly I would address, only that the resolution would come in the third book. (Book 2 has its own resolution, for what it's worth--and satisfying, I think--but to get that resolution I had to leave other things unresolved.)

So I really didn't know much about how the novel would go at that point. I spent the rest of September and all of October letting various ideas bounce around in my head, jotting down some ideas. So by the end of October I had a rough and fluid outline for the story--who it would focus on and what they would be doing at different points of the novel.

Then in November I dived right in and didn't allow myself to second guess things. If I wasn't sure what would happen next, I would walk the dog and wonder what would make this discrete part of the novel exciting, trusting that the rough outline I had would keep it all flowing in a way that works.

For the first 25 days of November, I wrote almost exactly 2,000 words per day. After that we were traveling to visit my in-laws, and I only got about another 2,000 words over the rest of the month. Both of the previous books in the series had been in the 120k-130k word range, so I was hoping to get a little farther in November, but still it was enough to "win" NaNo, and I was pleased with the progress.

My goal in December was to write 1,000 words per day. Early in the month I struggled to get that much, not so much because of anything in the writing, but because of busyness with non writing stuff. That said, there's always a point in any novel I've written (and almost any short story even) about that far in when it becomes harder to keep plugging away, when you start to question the story, the approach, the writing itself. So the slowdown was probably partly due to that as well. But later I caught up and ended the month at almost exactly 1,000 words/day.

The goal then was 1,000 words a day for January as well, which I guessed would get my within a few thousand of the end to either finish in February or maybe find a way to get to in January. But the first day of the month I hit 1,500 words, and then the second day as well. And I decided to aim for that as long as I could. That worked out well. There were two days when busyness limited me to just over 1k, and two days when everything was flowing so well that I got almost 3k, with the rest of the days right around 1,500 until the book was complete.

When will you get to read this masterpiece? I don't know and don't want to even hazard a guess. I hope to come back to it in a few months for the first of several revisions. Then hopefully I can have it polished and sent to my publisher sometime around next fall or early winter. Beyond that, I have no guess and little control. But I'm excited already for when this book comes out for everyone to read!

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