Stalled at 52,000 Words

I got a manuscript evaluation from my editor and it was very insightful. One of her valuable observation was that I should divide the novel into two parts. I’d done this before but pulled the divisions out because I just wasn’t sure it is the way to go. Now I’m sure. An objective point of view can really help. Also, I’m making notes for the final draft, but I’m finding myself stalled out with only five more chapters to write.

I’m twelve chapters and 52,000 words into this novel. I really want to complete the remaining five chapters–about 20,000 words–but the really irritating thing is, I’ve written these chapters before in the first draft. And the basic plan and ideas are the same. But I’m blocked again. I’m pretty sure that the holiday ‘thing’ has slowed me down, so I’m not beating myself up too badly. I just wish I could breakout and race to the ending.

In the meantime, I’ve been creating two maps, one to be included on Part One and the other in the middle of the book at Part Two. The maps were also something I’d been thinking about, but my editor and I discussed it and now I’m more confident of the necessity.

I’m also working on a cover design, although I don’t have the artistic talent to make my ideas come to life. And then there’s the novel synopsis. The synopsis is something I really hate because I don’t see how they can explain the complexities of a novel, not to mention the emotions. Nonetheless, agents seem to thrive on having a synopsis, so I’m learning how to do this, but mainly I’m just reinforcing my hatred for writing a synopsis.

The final chapters requires that I improve my knowledge of several historic characters. Maybe this is part of my dilemma also. Oh well… on with the show.

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46,000 Words to Editor

I decided that it’s time to send the manuscript to my editor. It’s not complete, only 46,000 words, but I’m ready for the next wave of edits.

I’ve been looking for a good editor that I can truly work with. I learned a lot from my first editors, but I’m ready for an editor with more experience. I’ve worked with magazine editors in the past, so I’m used to the ebb and flow of the process. But this is a novel and the challenges are more advanced.

The main issue I have with many editors is that they underestimate you. They revert to trying to mold you into what they think you should be. I’m seeking an editor who will try to understand who I am, then help bring out the best I can create. I’m looking for a coach who sees my potential, rather than someone who endeavors to train to be like themselves. This may sound simple but my experience tells me its not common.

While the editors do their thing, I’m back to trying to finish the remaining chapters.

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Lost Without Microsoft OneNote

Here’s another example of how I used Microsoft’s OneNote (no, Microsoft, I still haven’t upgraded) to maintain my massive store of notes, photos and files. I’m pretty sure that OneNote or something like it is really indispensable for modern writing; well, that is if there are many characters, many settings and a complex plot. The story though, I’m certain that’s all about the ability to write. Anyway, this is one of my lead characters and a guy I’m massively attracted to but unfortunately he’s just a face I saw in a group of guys once. Note to the guy in the pic: phone number please. Okay… joking, sorta. Heh.


This is a summary tab of the Character Section of my novel. For more details I use the right hand menu of notebooks.

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2012-2016 And Still Working

I’ve had a sort of externally inflicted and on-again, off-again writer’s block over the past year. Nonetheless, I’m still at work on this novel.

Half of the novel is complete; about 35,000 words. The second part is substantially different than the first because I’ve had time to consider the complexities of the story. In fact, I’ve pulled over 20,000 words because those chapters didn’t really move the story forward. Doing this was a painful process but it led me realize how much crap I had written. In fact, I have no idea if this entire novel is just a piece of crap. But the thing is, it’s a story I want to tell. And I’ll find a way to do that despite the possibility that no one will find it interesting.

My goal is to complete the remaining chapters within the next three months.



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I’ve avoided outlining my story from the very beginning. In the very, very beginning I wanted to write the story something like Jack Kerouac’s first draft of On the Road. Basically he did a mind dump with a typewriter and one of those old paper rolls. I think they were used in teletype machines. Heh. Like that, just sit down and dump out this book I’ve spent so much time researching and developing.

NaNoWriMo Was Helpful

Reluctantly I used the NaNoWriMo most basic suggestion, I wrote three acts. Then I wrote the chapter narratives. I was pleased with myself when I finished. I felt it was worth the effort and proceeded to write my first draft. I especially liked those three acts, they made good sections of the novel. And then I discovered that I’d shot gunned all kind of crap in every nook and cranny of the manuscript.

Throwing Stuff Away, Over and Over

So I tried to reel in all the crap in the second draft, but I felt I needed to take the three parts down to two. Then got some editorial help and further reeled this thing in. Then this led to that and I’ve been re-writing the first chapter for the past two months. Yes, two months and I got no where.

Sometime in the last month I decided I’d be better off if I could put my chapter descriptions into outline form. This is a year and half since writing my “Epic Chapter” post.  The other thing is, I’ve come to realize that instead of that original three parts, I’m now down to three novels. That’s not so depressing because I’ve come to realize that the first novel is really backstory for the story I really want to write.

Huh? What?

In many ways, the first novel will be a kind of throwaway. It will be an interesting story I think or hope. But the truth is I could simply proceed to the second book without writing book one. I could develop the characters from scratch in book two, but there’s a lot that I think there’s a lot of good stuff that will reveal itself in the telling of the first tale. And for this reason I’m determined to simply press forward and write and publish book one.

Then There’s This…

I never wanted to be a writer. What? Well, okay, I did want to be a writer when I was in high school–there’s that. But this project has never been about becoming a writer or “an author” or being a writer becoming famous or any of that. This project has always been about telling a story that just began to create itself inside my head, my mind. And despite the fact that my mind is an awful place for anything to get created, it got created. I mean, I’m a Gemini and there’s a lot going on inside my mind. Anyway, the characters and plot got created. It’s still getting created too. That’s that too. And somewhere along the way all those elements revealed a story–an actual story. Each time I find myself writing I wish I had greater writing skills. But I can’t let this bother me anymore, it’s time to finish telling the first part of this epic tale.

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When I began this novel I plunged in with my usual carefree swagger. Once I finished the first draft I began to realize how awful it was.

So I plunged into the second draft with reckless abandon, and before I finished I realized it was even worse!

Now, working on the third draft and going quietly insane, I’m trying to make every sentence and every paragraph work. And I wish I could be regain all that reckless, carefree spirit. The worst part of this is I’m certain that I’m overthinking the third draft. But I’m sure I’ll never know because I’m so deeply buried in it that I can barely comprehend what I’ve written.

It also occurs to me that I spent too many carefree years blogging. My writing was an undisciplined–fire and forget–hodge-podge.

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Third Draft

It has taken two complete drafts of Part One and one complete draft of Part Two to reach this point. I estimate the combined writing for those drafts encompasses well over 100,000 words, and the backstory stuff is another 100,000. It has been an arduous process, building the story, creating the characters and settings. And, of course, all that research and as I’m constantly hearing, ‘Research isn’t Writing.’ Part Two is still a killer with research, all world building stuff but a lot of it is historical based.

One of my favorite mentors by way of webinar, has an expression I like, “Arrogance and ignorance are your friends.” It sounds arrogant and ignorant, but for me it is a way of marching into new territory. That’s kind of my style in most things. Where some study and take classes and seek advice, I choose to plunge in with reckless abandon. I’m also not embarrassed to say that during the past several months it has become necessary for me to learn all the traditional things. I don’t think I could have written this bad girl any other way.

Unfortunately, reckless abandon has left me with a lot of baggage to clean up, and I can’t see a better way to correct the problems than to start from scratch, kinda. I have a huge amount of material but all of it needs to be reorganized. Also, partly because I’ve chose a difficult narrative point of view and tense I’ll need to nail those down better.

I’ve begun re-writing the whole novel. The basic outline is unchanged and many of the chapters will present the same basic story. But I need to improve my storytelling skills and I particularly need to write to the genre with greater awareness. I still see that I have a lot to learn but I’m enthusiastic about the way forward. I figure it will take two-months to complete ~80,000 words, and confidence is high.

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