I just finished chapter eight. My current word count is 39611, and my current page count is 156, at 12 points Bookman Old Style. Those both seem ridiculously high given that I'm, I would guess, a little over a quarter of the way through my plot. But I'm not going to worry about it yet. For one thing, I know some writers, including OSC, indicate that their early chapters tend to be longer than their later ones. In a writing lesson column on story length, he specifically mentions often feeling that he has an absurdly high word count a quarter of the way into his story or so, and then feeling, around two-thirds to three-quarters of the way through, like he's not going to make it, and then finding at the end that he typically has 110,000 words or so. In any case, having too much material just seems like a much better problem to have than the alternative.
I think I'd find it extraordinarily difficult if I were told either to make up more material to make a work longer or to cut material to make it shorter. I tend to feel, rightly or wrongly, that every paragraph is the necessary bridge between the previous one and the next one. On the occasions when I realize I need to go back and plant some seed of foreshadowing earlier, I find it really hard to break apart the chain to insert a new link. It seems like it would be almost equally hard to remove links in the chain altogether.
Eight is my longest chapter so far, by far. Seven was my shortest (because six was my longest until I split it in two, but whatever). Hopefully readers won't balk at an 8000-word chapter since it's right after a 3200-word one. I can't really split this one . . . all of the story in it really belongs together, imho.
Eight was much easier to write than six and seven were. Six and seven were dark and painful. Eight is pretty light and upbeat. There are shadows on the horizon: my protagonist (Chris) knows he's about to profoundly hurt some good people who are only trying to do good for him. But that's in the future, and, other than his angst about that, things are going well for him at this specific moment. (Did I mention that I was choked up at the end of seven? Some good times/easier reading/easier writing are in order, I think.) The only reason it's so long is that Chris is in a new setting, with new people, so suddenly I need to provide a lot more description. There are a lot of minor details, stuff thrown in to flesh things out and make them more real--and to obscure the stuff that seems equally unimportant now but will be very important later. I hope it all works. I hope I'm not losing readers in the avalanche of details. When I get feedback on this chapter, I'll start to get a better sense.
Here's a minor (so far) dilemma I have. Chris is an avid reader. I have been establishing this as I go, talking about what he's reading. Much later in the novel, something he reads is going to cause him to have an important insight, and that's what I've been laying the groundwork for. The books I've had Chris reading are real books. One of them I will be spoiling the hell out of. Is that Seriously Uncool? Would it help if didn't explicitly name it (currently, I do) so that people who have read it would catch the reference and know what's going on, but people who haven't would just get its effect on Chris, but not have a famous novel spoiled for them?
Back on the topic of feedback, I decided it was time to start tentatively showing VA to some more readers besides Cor. I shared One with one couple last night, and I might invite another friend of mine to read it if I see her online tonight. I'm still not ready to do what Cor did, though, and announce at one of the forums I belong to that I'm looking for readers.
Speaking of forums, I've started reading (and posting to, natch) the blogs of some writers I like. You never know when somebody might share some insight that really helps me out. For instance, one of the things I've really started to become aware of lately is that for years I've really only focused on the artistic side of my craft. I write and I submit (a little) as if that's all there is to it. I haven't really thought much about the concrete aspect of getting published. I've been hoping to get discovered in the slush pile and it hasn't happened yet. I should be going to Cons and meeting with publishers and agents, making use of the contacts I have in this town, and generally focusing more than I have been on the selling.
I really need to start trying again to find publishers for some of my better stories. I know I've posted that before, but I need to nag myself. Stupid Challenging Destiny, never answering me one way or the other. I'm like some doomed young whaler's bride, waiting for news that will never come. Okay, that sounds gay. I'm so not good at figurative language. This weekend I guess I'll buy the latest N&SSWM. One of the things I'm picking up on from the blogs I've been reading is that there is so much more out there than just the three or four magazines people think of when it comes to short SF. The market shrinks in so many ways, but the market expands too.
That's all I can think of for now . . . time to catch up on some Spring Training games.
Revision Prep: Create a Revision Plan
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