Just typed the last word of the first draft of a new book. It’s an MG fantasy novel whose working title is A Sword Named PERHAPS. Not sure if that title will stick. I’ve literally gone through 400 titles (well, actually 393, according to my notes), and I still haven’t found one that really captures it.
I think that’s because the book itself is a really difficult one to summarize. It’s about an eleven year old boy who takes an instant dislike to the new kid in class: a bearded kid, with yellow pointy teeth, whose name is Satan. The hero, Nick, becomes convinced that Satan is, well, Satan, and starts a campaign to defeat him, but Satan seems to think he’s just a hapless nerd, and after awhile the rest of the world starts to think of Nick as just another bully who’s decided to pick on the new kid. But then some weird stuff happens. There’s a mysterious illness. Some wildfires (the book is set in Northern California). And Nick is forced to decide: Does he really believe in himself? Is he willing to stand up and persecute this kid even though nobody else believes that there’s a problem? Or will he accept society’s judgement?
The book is good. It’s sixty thousand words. I started on October 25th, so it’s not quite a NaNo novel, but since I finished on November 24, it must still count, right?
The process was odd. It’s the most constructed book I’ve ever written. All throughout it I was writing down scenes on slips of paper, and I was constantly laying them out and discarding some of them and then laying them out again. At any given point, I always had a pretty decent idea of what every chapter would be (although that idea did change a few times–my stack of discarded scenes is many times higher than the stack of scenes that I actually used).
This did lead to a certain loss of excitement. Laying out the scenes and working on the outline was really fun. Writing was less fun (though still not a chore), since I knew basically what was going to happen.
I’ve never done a novel this way. Previously, every time I outlined a book I’d lose interest in it midway through and abandon it. This time I think that didn’t happen because now I actually know a little something about how novels work and so am able to analyze it a little more.
Still, I don’t know. When I’ve written other novels, it’s been so intense: Enter Title Here felt almost like a manic episode.
This time was not nearly so emotional. I just sat down and I did it. And that makes me wonder if the book is good.
I think it might be, though. The evidence in its favor is that it’s the first book I’ve been able to finish in sixteen months (during which time I’ve abandoned maybe ten novel projects). All of those books bored me by the time I got halfway through. This one never did. I always believed in it, and I always felt like it was a challenge. So we’ll see.
Good to finish something, though!!!