Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The incredible sensations and painful cruelties of finishing a novel (reading or writing)

I get this wonderful, satisfied feeling whenever I finished reading a book. Finishing a series is like the satisfying feeling of finishing each one of those books multiplied by how many hours reading.

Different books leave you with different vibes. Por ejemplo, I have often described how finishing the Hunger Games Trilogy was very satisfying, however it left me with a feeling like I had just been jumped, beaten and had my wallet stolen. Still, satisfying, but in equal measure it was soul crushing.

Finishing the Harry Potter series, in contrast, left one with a warm gooey feeling. Equally important.

The satisfaction that I feel when I finish writing a book is a very similar sensation, except squared. Cubed. + bonus points. It’s amazing. Writers, are you with me?! Finishing books is my favorite.

In the last year I’ve written two novels. One is a Sci Fi novel, I wrote it to be the first book in a tetralogy. My original plan was to allow a few more words than the typical 70,000 that they want for a first novel, just because I knew that the story arch was intense and… well, I decided 90,000 wasn’t so bad and I made that my goal.

Three months later I completed the rough draft. It was 160,000 words long. Oh no. So, I went through it and rewrote some stuff and ended up with a 165,000 word draft. Crap. I went through it again. 170,000. Crrraappp. FINALLY! I figured out what I was doing wrong. I needed to stop adding stuff (maybe that should have been obvious). About two weeks ago, I decided to overhaul keeping this ‘taking-away-and-not-adding’ principle in mind. Now I have a file of almost 20,000 words of stuff that I cut from the book. I trimmed the beginning and end off of most of the chapters, cut several scenes and unneeded exposition and rewrote certain sections to give the same information, but without long-winded world-building dumps. So, now I’m down to 150,000 and hoping to keep trimming since I’ve still got to sift through almost two hundred more pages of exposition-laced, rough-draft excrement.

The point is, as wonderful as it felt to finish writing that rough draft, I have a feeling it will be equally glorious when I am finished with this overhaul.

The other book, I’m charmed to admit, needs less work. I think. I hope.

It’s a YA fantasy and a proper 70,000 word novel. This one could have been as much of a disaster as the first book I wrote this last year, but I learned from my mistakes and took a realistic look at how long it was going to take me to develop this, that and the other and to do everything that needed to be done in the story. That was how the original summary of this story that I had in mind became sliced into three pieces and turned into a trilogy. It is much neater as a trilogy, as opposed to my Scifi novel which cannot be naturally divided, although I have taken that suggestion into account several times since I finished writing the book. I believe it works best if it starts where I (as of two weeks ago, since I changed that in the overhauled) started it and ends where I ended it. Things in between might need to be cut, but I can’t figure it another way. Apologies.

Here’s the big question on my mind right now though. I’ve written eight books thus far, in my little fledgling life as a writer. I have yet to complete a sequel to any of these books, either because they were meant to stand alone or because I realized the story was horrible and set it aside, never to speak of it again. I set a break for myself—one month. That’s one month to focus on editing and completing summaries and (oh yeah) my job. That was one month until my fifteen adorable little children get to run off for their summer vacations, one month to go on a diet and start running and training more seriously. It has been a fun month so far. I finished writing my YA Fantasy two and a half weeks ago, so I’ve got another week and a half to go before I begin writing another book. I thought I would only need a month to decide what to write next. My problem isn’t a lack of ideas, it is that I have far too many ideas and I don’t know which one to take on next. Usually, there is an obvious choice dangling in the forefront of my mind, begging to be made shiny and corporeal. Ish.

Anyway, I am always reluctant to work on a sequel when I still have only a rough draft of the first book. That’s why I started writing my YA novel after I finished the Scifi one, in place of beginning work on a sequel. I know exactly how the sequel will go and I have about the first two hundred pages solid in my head, but I was concerned that something major might change during the editing of the first book. So, while I was editing the Scifi monster I also started the YA piece. Now I have two completed books that need minimal editing (hopefully). At least, there shouldn’t be much more I can do personally. Both of these books have sequels already planned in detail… and I have at least four other complete synopses that are unrelated to either of these books and that want to be written, very, very badly.


Ah, well. I still have a week and a half to decide.

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