Progress continues on my middle grade fantasy novel. I’ve just started the second half. The wordcount currently stands at 21,800 words. Since the wordcount for the first half of my outline came to around 21,000 words, I’m aiming for the final wordcount to be 42,000 words, so we’ll see how close I can get it. Not that it has to be super-precise. But if it’s too far off, the story will probably feel off-balance. I did some chapter restructuring, splitting one chapter into three and fusing two other chapters together, so now the total amount of chapters in my outline is 21, and I just finished writing chapter 13. If I keep this structure, it means I only have eight more chapters to write. The second half always feel like more fun in stories; it’s when things really start building to the climax.
Slow writing around this time of year as we have birthdays and Thanksgiving to celebrate. But I managed to finish chapter 9 a moment ago. The wordcount is now 18,500 words. More than I thought it would be, but not bad. I just don’t want the final wordcount to be over 50,000 words, so I think I’m on track. It’s tempting around this time in the story to take a break and work on some short stories or something, but I’m afraid to do that. It’s gotten to the point where if I don’t write a bit every day, I lose my connection with the world of the novel, and I have to re-establish it before I can start writing again, but it gets harder and harder to re-establish that connection each time I have to do so.
Progress on The Dark Wizard continues slowly. I finished writing chapter 7 yesterday, bringing the wordcount to around 13,300 words. I wish I could write faster, but I will resist the temptation to analyze why I’m going so slow, why some of these scenes are so difficult to write even though they seem so simple once they’re finished. I don’t know why it’s difficult. That’s just the way it is. But it is enjoyable. I feel a connection with this character and his world, and that’s the best you can hope for when writing a novel, I think.
Over the weekend, I finished writing chapter 5 of my middle grade fantasy novel, The Dark Wizard. It turned out to be longer than I expected, a bit over 4,000 words, which is lengthy for one my chapters; I usually keep chapters between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Anyway, I’m a quarter of the way through my rough outline. The wordcount is now a little over 10,000 words.
I haven’t updated in months, have I? Here’s a little update on how my writing not-yet-money-making-career is going.
My agent search for my middle grade fantasy novel Moonrise Ink was unsuccessful. I got a few requests for partials, one request for the full manuscript, but they all ultimately ended in rejections. There are plenty more agents I could try querying, but in all honesty, I’ve lost faith in the book. Now that I have some distance from the manuscript, I can see some terrible weaknesses. Firstly, the main character, Quoll, is not active enough, which makes him dull to read about. Secondly, the enemies that Quoll is supposed to be fighting remain elusive for far too long, so we have what Blake Snyder would call a “watch out for that glacier!” problem. Or perhaps in my case, “where is that glacier anyway? I can’t even see it.” In the second half of the book, I think it become apparent that I grow bored with Quoll and find much more interest in the supporting character Thravien and his subplot of betrayal. But rather than compensating for Quoll’s character weaknesses, it only further tilts the story out of balance.
There are other critiques I could mention, but those are the main ones. They are fixable, but fixing them would require a lot of restructuring and rewriting, and I’m more interested in moving on to new stories with new characters in new worlds. As I mentioned to a friend a few weeks ago, I am very good at reading a story or watching a film and recognizing and understanding the underlying structure of the plot. But going in reverse, creating the structure and fleshing it out, especially for something the length of a novel, is still a challenge. Understanding how the emotions and pacing of each scene relate to the overall plot structure is something that will take time and experience, I suppose. I know I certainly didn’t quite get it with Moonrise Ink.
I am now working on a middle grade fantasy novel which I will call, for the time being, The Dark Wizard. (That really won’t be it.) What better way to make sure that my main character is active than to make him a young villain, eh? I’ve been wanting to write this character’s story for a while, though it took me many months to come up with a plot I felt was appropriate. There are still challenges I’m facing with this story, of course, but I’m definitely enjoying writing a darker fantasy, especially around this season. My first draft is currently around 6,200 words with 4 chapters. I’m aiming for 30,000 to 40,000 words with 20 or so chapters. I’m definitely trying to keep it much shorter than the 79,000 word manuscript for Moonrise Ink. I’m also reusing some of the fantasy elements I really enjoyed using in Moonrise Ink, so things like toves and the blue Nyrish moon won’t die just yet.
I’m also still working on the co-written supernatural fantasy with a friend. Progress is much slower on that, but I think that’s inevitable in our situation. However, I’m very much enjoying it; even when we disagree on something, the disagreements are engaging and, whether or not I end up changing my mind, they force me to think of things differently.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, my short story Arkbod appeared in Buzzy Mag last month! Be sure to check it out!