11:58p, Thursday, November 29th, 46,889.
I’m done for the night. I wrote just over 7,000 words today. I have 3,000 left to go to hit 50,000, and I have until midnight Friday to do it. I’m not worried. I will dance a victory dance and marvel at the fact that I’ve done something that I thought was impossible, at least for me.
[NOVEMBER 30th UPDATE]
But that’s not really the end of it, obviously. I mean, no one thinks they have a viable manuscript – as is – upon reaching the magic number. (Some folks, however, do seem alarming inclined to think they are close to finished though. I don’t want to be one of those people.)
After all my years of dissecting novels and studying the craft, I know different. I know that a salable novel in my chosen genre is somewhere between 80,000 – 120,000 words long. For this project I settled on a goal of 90,000 – 94,000 for the finished version. In a manuscript of that length, there should be roughly 72 distinct “sections,” divided between the viewpoints of 4 major characters, and including at least one separate but related subplot. (A section is pretty much what you think of when someone says “scene,” but there are few more guidelines that apply.)
Did you know that the books you read had such equations hidden within them? They do. I’ve checked. Even when the author doesn’t know the math, he or she ends up mirroring this classic structure. Apparently it’s as old as literature. Even avant-garde lit works both within and against these particular rules.
I started this project, on November 1st, knowing only the math. (isn’t THAT ironic?) … Well, To be truthful, I knew that, and the fact that it was going to be set in the hotel where I work.
Because I came in pretty much cold, I’ve been working up a section map, otherwise known as an outline, as I go. (The current word count on that, by the way, is 3,200 words.) Thanks to a couple of hours of intense figuring and brainstorming early on, I realized I could devote about 800 words to any given section before I had to move on, so that I’d get somewhere near the end of the story by the time the deadline came.
Of course that means I’m merely making a sketch of what will be included in the final section, but the process does three important things:
- gets the cliches out of the way
- builds the bones for the story
- occasionally results in a startlingly good shred of flesh to wrap around those bones.
I will hit the 50,000 mark somewhere within the 62nd section. The ending will be in motion, but I’ll still have 10 more sections to go before I can type ‘THE END (of draft one).’
So. Right now I’m trying to decide if I should push for that tomorrow, or if I should just enjoy the accomplishment of committing 50,000 words in 30 days to (virtual) paper.
I’m thrilled and proud that I know I’m going to do this thing, but I’m also sobered. This is what writing is. And, sometimes, I don’t know why I do it.
Do you have any idea how viciously I’m kicking myself for not doing this when I wasn’t working a full-time job?