I am now two weeks into a self imposed six week break away from my manuscript and random scenes and characters are still wandering through my head. Taking a break between drafts is important because it helps me regain needed perspective and distance. While writing I get too close to the story and can no longer see what’s on the page as compared to what’s in my head. The best way to overcome this is time away.
Taking a break doesn’t come without a downside. The other night one of my characters brought up a plot error, an action that didn’t make sense for the character in question. I wanted him to be wrong and ignore the problem but he wouldn’t let me alone. I didn’t pull out the manuscript, I know that’s what he wanted, so over the course of the day I mentally worked over the problem until something clicked. If I didn’t, I know he wouldn’t let me sleep.
Even with random characters haunting my steps, being away from the book has been a welcome change. I’ve finally had the time to work on some of my smaller projects and see progress there. The one short story I’ve been editing is only a few pages from turning itself into a novella if I’m not careful. My goal is to have it finished and submitted to a few markets for publication before I return to work on the book.
For the next four weeks I’m looking forward to continuing work on my short stories and taking a bit of a break before diving back into the gritty process of refining and editing the manuscript. After this draft it will be ready for beta readers! As much as if terrifies me, I’m looking forward to getting some real world feedback.
As expected, July turned out to be hot and busy. Between plenty of family activities and long days home with kids, it was hard to consistently find time to work on my book. Even with these challenges the word count rose from around 57,500 words to 72,000 words – a net increase of 14,500 words or about 60 pages, and that deserves a happy dance all around. A good part of these words were salvaged from an earlier draft and edited to fit the new needs of the current draft. The rest are new scenes written to round out the story.
These pages contain both the action climax and the emotional climax of the book, and have been a bear to work on. I owe my family an apology for the days I was mentally withdrawn as I worked through some of the emotions myself. Part of me feels bad about what happens to my characters, I have put them through the wringer and there’s not much I’ve given them as a reward. During future editing I’m going to have to make sure that the payout for completing their quest is enough or my readers might end up throwing the book against a wall.
I’m excited to have reached this point in writing Stonebearer’s Betrayal. At this pace, I should finish this draft during the month of August and be that much closer to publication. After this, I’ll begin the more detailed and painstaking work of filing down the rough edges and filling in gaps and holes, of which I already know there are many.
Between this draft and the next, I’m looking forward to taking a break for a few weeks and working on some short fiction to submit to magazines and contests. I’ve collected a few fun ideas that I hope will turn into some great fiction.
Until next month, happy writing!
June marked the start of summer vacation for the kids and a lot less undisturbed time for me. It felt I spent most of the month spent finding balance between housework, playing with the kids, and finding time for me to continue working on my story. Still, I ended the month with the manuscript heavier by a surprising additional 22,000 words, bringing the total to about 57,500 words. Even with challenges, I managed to crank through roughly 88 pages. I’m thrilled.
At last I feel like I’m making some real progress. For the longest time I wasn’t sure about where the story needed to go or how to get it there. Now, with this month’s work, the story and it’s characters are gaining momentum and I can see where it needs to go.
Writing a first novel is much harder than it looks, you are not only discovering your characters and the story, but you are also discovering yourself as a writer. It’s taken years to find what techniques work best for me. Looking back the solution seems obvious now. If I could have figured out my style of working earlier I could have saved myself a huge amount of time.
Along with the progress made on the manuscript, June marks the first time I’ve received a formal rejection letter for a short story submitted to a contest. Although I would have loved it if my story were accepted, receiving a rejection is a milestone every writer must face. Having one says I’m submitting and putting my work out there. It won’t be the last rejection letter I receive and in time there will be acceptances as well.
I’m looking forward to July with its heat and long days. If I can make the same amount of progress that I did in June then I’m on track for finishing this draft by the end of summer. After that, the bulk of the work is done and I can start focusing on detail work and really making it shine.
I can’t wait.