To my Heirs and Executors

I know a lot of first drafts are bad. Some people, I hear, write quite decent first drafts to save time on rewrites later, or perhaps because they’re just that good.

My first drafts stink. I write in fits and bursts to get my thoughts down and I try and abandon different paths. I’ll leave an awful sentence if it gets the point across because I need to get all my thoughts down before they vanish.

Now that I’m working on a novel I’m moving forward with a general story arc but there are so very many things I still don’t know. And, since it’s science fiction, I have to create a whole new future, too! It’s a ton of fun, but I’m flying without a chart most of the time.

So, if I should die before a rewrite, please don’t think less of me and my stinky draft. It’s my process, people!

On Facing 100,000 Words and Not Getting Bored

I freaked out a couple of weeks ago. I had written a 2000 word scene for The Novel that I was reasonably happy with. Then I realized I had to do it 50 more times. Holy Crap.

I started thinking about how to break the novel down into three acts, and then roughly allocating the number of words per act. (That’s about 35,000 per act for those of you playing along at home.) Ken Scholes, who is an honest-to-god-published-sf-author, just finished a 34,000 word novella in four months. And he has a full-time job and twin babies. I have a part-time job and two cats. (I know he would also say that he’s been writing a lot longer. Good point, Ken.)

I realized that one of my science-fictional premises invokes a mystery, and I want to have that come home in the third act. The problem is I don’t know who-did-it so to speak. And that’s been hanging me up for a week.

Then today I meshed that hang-up with another one of my fears: that I can’t write a novel because I’ll honestly get bored before I’m done. I mean, I don’t finish a solitaire game once I know I’m going to win. So, as much as anything, my writing method needs to to keep me interested until the damn thing is finished.

I don’t need the answer to the mystery for the first act. So I’m going to write, and let my brain keep working on the puzzle of the upcoming mystery. I don’t know how it’s going to end. And that may be more fun. At least for 30,000 words.