Thursday, June 26, 2008

Draft 1 Complete and Together: Blogging the Novel

Here's the good news:

My first draft is complete and I have sort of a working title. Btw, I am looking for feedback on this title. The original working title was The Beauty Parlour, but now I find that the truest way to tell the story is to set a few chapters (short stories) outside the parlour. So, I've divided the book into three parts, each with its own title, and hopefully it all comes together in the end.

The race is on between The Beauty Parlour and the new title, When Rage is Spent. Cast your votes now! :-)

So today I combined all the separate chapters into one giant file, my official first draft. All good, right?

Here's the bad news:

Unlike many writers (whom I desperately envy) I don't write too much and then cut. I write too little and need to add. This means adding detail, filling in atmospheric information (in this case, giving my novel more of a feel of the location), adding more filler, etc., etc.

So alas, while the first draft is now fully complete, it is far too short. At 202 pages and close to 54,000 words, I now need to add at least 20,000 more words and perhaps 20-30 pages for it to be really a novel. I was stoked while combining the files. I was so sure it was at least 70,000 words but alas! my shorthand way of writing strikes again.

While writing none of this technical stuff bothers me. But now that the novel is less a story and in the process of becoming a marketable product (please! please!) these weirdo things haunt me.

Who dictates what makes a novel?

Who determines the optimum length?

Why is 70,000 words better than 54,000?

Why the fuck am I so obsessed about this?

I know that ultimately I will do what is right for this book and I do know it needs more detail, some smoothening of rough edges, some re-working, perhaps adding more meat onto certain characters. And if that needs just 55,000 words so be it.

But still the wanna-be successful novelist in me does get a bit too caught up in numbers and crap.

It's all crap I tell ya.


Mighty Mom said...

Our writing styles have a lot in common, Jawa. I, too, am a skeleton writer, fleshing out my stories over multiple drafts. I feel your pain. I've sworn off word counts for this, my fifth draft of my very first novel. I'm enjoying this pass at it much more. I just hope it still qualifies as a 'middle grade novel' when it's done.
Wishing you all the fabulously engaging filler you need,

Jawahara Saidullah said...

Hey MM:

Thanks! It's good to know that others write the way I do. Otherwise I spend most of my time feeling like an untalented hack...well maybe I am but I shouldn't feel like one, right? ;-)

On an encouraging note to both of us: my first novel, when first combined had come in at 55,000 words. But I was able to add 15,000 words to make it 70K and it did turn out to be better for it.
So both of us have hope, huh?

Keep writing, you. Can't wait to read more of your lovely 'middle grade' novel :-)

Sher said...

I am with you as regards writing style. Very painful.

Bina said...

i was told by my agent that 80,000 - 120,000 words constitutes a decent sized first novel. The one I'm writing at the moment (my fourth) comes in at 80,000 words. I thought I was being too expansive, but I wrote at a slow pace so that I could give enough time and space to the themes and allow everything to develop and not make it feel rushed. It seemed to work because while I wasn't hung up on word count, I feel happy with the result. The rest of the work is going to be fine-tuning but I feel pretty good that the structure is fairly complete.

The size of your work sounds more like a novella than a novel at the moment. Which is fine too.

Jawahara Saidullah said...'s good to know I am not alone :-)

Bina, there are varying estimates about what constitutes a novel vs. a novella but most (not all) of them put a novel at anything above 65,000 words.

My previous one was around 72,000 words, and came in close to 200 pages when printed.

So, I'm quite confident about making 70,000+ for this as well. I knew even while writing (because it's not a linear narrative and things loop around a lot) that I would have to go in and add lots of stuff.

Now let's see how long it takes *sigh*

As of today I am already up to 56,000

Anamika said...

I like "The Beauty Parlour" better although I have no idea what the context is :)

Sagarika said...

And to me, "When Rage IS Spent" wins hands down - GO FOR IT!

Jawahara Saidullah said...

Thanks we have a tie-breaker lurking somewhere? Please!

dipali said...

The Beauty Parlour sounds more intriguing, somehow!