Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Novel: Cutting


I continue to cut the novel. The goal for the first draft was to have a coherent continuous narrative. The goal for the second draft is, primarily, a shorter coherent continuous narrative. I think it's best if I already have the size under control before I go after other problems. I may discover that I'm wrong, but, hey, learning experience.

I've been tracking its size. When I finished the first draft, in late April, it was 155.5K. This was after removing probably a good 80K of scenes already. (All in a "scrap bucket" project. I'm not deleting anything.) I want it down to 90K, but for this round I'm aiming for 110-120, after which I will Evaluate.

After a few downs and a few ups, it's at 129.9K. A fair bit of that was removed from just the first quarter--first quarter, plot-wise; the novel divides itself into pretty clear quarters in my head. That seems optimistic, except the first quarter has always been the flabbiest, with meandering scenes that just have a few essential points, so they're easy to either pare down to those points, or kill entirely and assign their jobs to other scenes. I'm under the delusion that the remaining three quarters are already fairly tight. I hope I find out I'm wrong. 

I realize that this post's title implies that it's about cutting, and, really, it's just communicating the score so far. I will hopefully engage in some more detailed burbling later (Cutting subplots! Cutting scenes! Removing words from existing sentences with tweezers!) but I'm trying to maintain the goal of keeping this blog awake, so I will be posting this soon.

Speaking of goals, I have written two pieces of fairly useless flash fiction in the three days since I posted my plan to write one a day. That's pretty good, compared to my usual record for writing resolutions.

Actually, that wasn't the resolution, was it? The resolution was half an hour a day. Somehow the idea that I have to finish a first draft crept in. I think an either/or resolution works. If I finish a first draft of a scene or tiny story in less than half an hour, I'm done. If I spend half an hour working on any piece of fiction of short story or shorter length, I'm done. Then I can go cut more from the novel, or even write a scene with my two main characters arguing over a meal and dump it directly in the scrap bucket, if I want to. I love writing those scenes.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, July 20, 2023




So will I resume blogging? Hmmm?

I’m realizing that I got that “Hmmm” from the “Mmmm?” that Mary Robinette Kowal uses to indicate the end of a question when she’s talking to her cat. Her cat talks. With a button board thing. Go look her up on Instagram; you’ll see.

And it becomes clear that this post is going to be me burbling from topic to topic. And I’m going to let it stay that way, because right now the goal will be to Post Something.

Now, I could pretend that the post has a theme—for example, communication. Me restarting my blog. A science fiction writer (Mary Robinette Kowal) trying to introduce language to her cat. (Introduce her cat to language? “English, Elsie. Elsie, English.” Oh, my, it’s clear that my brain is in full incoherent whimsy mode.) That’s two pieces of a theme.

And, actually, yes, the third piece is that I seem to be starting two writing resolutions at once.

The first-draft-complete status of the novel means that now I’m in editing and cutting mode, and still potentially years away from so much as submitting the thing to anything like an agent, and nobody ever gets their first novel published anyway, right?

But I seem to be unable to start my second novel now, while I’m buried in editing the first one. Brain won’t go there. So I formed the resolution of spending half an hour a day on flash fiction writing. I wrote some flash-length fiction a few years ago (Aieee, more than ten years ago!)—the one about the cat and the marmalade, the one about the pink flamingo, the one with the royal barista—and I kind of liked them, despite seeing the flaws. ("Did I use that breathless-child voice on purpose? Um...let's say I did.") I’d like to write more.

I’m not sure why I’m combining this with resuming the blog. Because I’m not going to put them on the blog. I don’t think I’ll be putting any more fiction on the blog.  If I hope to get published someday somehow, I must stop giving away everything that I could be using as rejection fodder.

It occurs to me that since finishing that first draft, I also resumed reading new-to-me books. This suggests that the drafting was fully occupying certain parts of my brain.

Did I mention that I’m just going to post this? Here we go.

Image: By Alvesgaspar. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

I used to blog

I used to blog.

I kind of enjoyed it. No, I did enjoy it.

Now, my writing mostly goes into fiction. Probably a quarter of a million words in the quest to write a 100K word novel. I finally finished the first draft. (155K. Cut to 130K. There will be much more cutting.)

I feel faintly sad realizing that I could have burbled on about the novel here and celebrated that first-draft-finishing here.

But I suspect nobody's "here" any more--that is, I suspect that the lovely people who read and commented on my very intermittent posts long ago removed me from their Follow lists, because, well that blog is dead. Was dead. Maybe no longer dead?

Anybody there?


Now I go to Wikimedia Commons and find a cat picture. Because that is how I blog.

Image: fox kiyo, Wikimedia Commons