Novel is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilling me

Just did a count of all the words in my Scrivener doc and I find that I’ve written at least 103,000 words while working on this novel. However, the current draft is (so far) only 43,000 words long. That means I’ve discarded over 60,000 words so far. The discarded chapters are piling up so fast that it’s actually difficult for me to mine them for the bits of text that I want to re-use. For the past week, I’ve been stuck at pretty much the same place (30,000 words, or roughly the beginning of Act II). For me, being stuck is not about staring at the keyboard and waiting. Being stuck is a very active and very energetic process that involves ALOT of typing.

But it can be a bit demoralizing when you throw out a whole day’s worth of work (including, often, some scenes that were pretty good…except for not really belonging in the novel that you’re actually writing).

I think I’ve caught the scent of the story again and am so far making good progress, but if this story turns out, in the end, to be readable, then I will be surprised. Throughout the book, the problem has been in capturing the emotional heart of the story. The main character is very stupid and she’s also a sociopath, so she talks about her emotions more than she actually feels them. It’s really fun to write in her voice, but it’s not easy to really be in her head. As such, I sometimes find myself sloshing around (or, worse, veering away from “neglectful mom” and towards “soulless sociopathic killer”) and not really getting anywhere.

On the plus side, I am learning a ton about how to construct a novel and am getting a good eye for when things are not working out. And although I know, intellectually, that the novel probably won’t end up being good, I am still excited about writing it. I woke up this morning with a horrible headache and immediately pulled over my laptop and made some of the edits that I’d been brainstorming before falling asleep last night. So, overall, it’s not been an unfun experience…

And who knows, maybe it’ll be good!

2 thoughts on “Novel is kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilling me

  1. Doug Daniel

    Are you trying to write the novel in sequence? In other words, you’re writing Chapter 1, then Chapter 2, then Chapter 3, etc.? If so, you might want try skipping ahead and doing a section further on, temporarily by-passing the stuck section and returning to it later.

    Another thing– this may sound weird, but have you written the ending yet? More to the point, do you know how the novel ends? If you haven’t written the ending, you might want to consider it. If you don’t have a clear idea what the end of the novel is, then I would recommend you take a step back for a moment and figure it out. Otherwise you don’t know what you’re working toward.

    It sounds as if you doing heavy editing as you go. For me this is the kiss of death. If at all possible, you need to shut your eyes and just type, making mental (or physical) notes about what you need to return to and fix when the draft is complete.

    My apologies if I am repeating the obvious.Good luck.

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Thanks for you advice, but everyone does it differently. I’ve done the “just type” thing before, and it’s turned out to be an awful mess. If you take a wrong turn on page 10, there’s no benefit in following it for another hundred pages.

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