Word Count: 116,500
Page Count: 502 Double-Spaced
Yesterday marks the two year anniversary of the completion of the first draft of the first chapter of ARK.
A DIFFICULT YEAR
One year ago the manuscript contained 90,000 words, this year, just over 116,000. It is startling to think that in one year I wrote 90,000 words and the next less than a third of that.
It’s been a difficult year of writing. I mentioned in a previous blog that it took six months to write the climax (chapters 18-23, respectively) of act (or “book”) one. The events of the climax, while complex, still needed to be believable. As my own biggest critic, I asked myself constantly why something less complex wouldn’t have happened, or why this or that wasn’t present in a certain scene when we could reasonably expect it would have been.
When I finished book one, I told myself I was not going to go back and edit the inconsistencies. I know they are there and have recorded them. Having been mired for six months in the climax, I wanted to move the plot forward. This is difficult for me. Part of the reason I’ve only written 116k words in two years is because I constantly go back and edit.
And, truth be told, last year was an emotional rollercoaster.
WRITING WITH THE DOOR OPEN
In a lot of ways this story has been written “with the door open,” to quote Stephen King in On Writing (thanks for giving me your copy Aunt Suzan). King himself recommends writing “with the door closed.” From my understanding, he’ll finish and entire work or a significant portion of a work before he ever lets his most important reader—his wife—into the conversation. This is not how I work. Especially because I’ve been writing for an audience, it’s been important to me from the very first chapter to write something that is captivating both as a story and as a piece of literature.
Because reader input has been a factor since chapter one, the book has in some ways been tailored to readers. When this is all said and done, the wider audience will be able to thank my friend Kristina that Se’eva’s armor does not “croak with a rubbery moan” when he moves. (Actually, I think Allie had something to say about that one, too.) Considering what a terrible phrase “croak with a rubbery moan” is, the wider audience may also be able to thank them that I got published.
More important than picking apart bad writing, it is the enthusiasm and encouragement of my handful of readers that has and will carry me to my projected goal of 200,000+ words. A lot of people have asked to read book one. Few have done it. It is significant that these people have invested themselves in a story that is incomplete. They deal with the major changes that come at times and with the fact that at the moment, the story is not finished. The wider audience will be able to continue from beginning to end. These readers are always dangling on a proverbial fishhook; upon completion, they will likely find themselves in the acknowledgements section.
Allie and Kristina: Thank you for not only reading, but telling me to hurry up and write more. That if Linus dies, you will kill me in real life.
Aunt Suzan: Thank you for reading what you have read and for providing significant (and at times sobering) advice not only on the technical aspects of fiction writing but on the realities of the publishing world.
Sara: Thank you for reading the story not only as a piece of fiction, but as something that represents me; for meticulously editing it as well as interacting with characterization and the wider themes; for asking many, many questions.
Becky: Thank you that even though you read it a long time before we discussed it, you remembered enough to talk about it. Thanks for asking for the World map.
Emily: Thank you for telling me I am in touch with my feminine side.
Patrick: Thank you for being the only male on this list, a significant fact when juxtaposed with my thanks to Emily.
In addition to allowing my clique of personal confidants to get their hands on what’s been done so far, sections of ARK were workshopped on Scribophile.com. Many people only read a chapter, but others became fans of the work, reading and critiquing every available chapter. Several defining things came out of my experience with Scribophile. That readers formerly unexposed to the story could start in chapter eight and be intrigued enough to go back and read from chapter one; that they immediately connected with the characters; that they sensed the context and history of the World; that they compared the fight scenes to things choreographed with wires in big-budget films, that they said, over and over again, that it is publishable, that they would buy it, that they would tell people to buy it.
WHERE THE STORY STANDS
At the moment, the novel stands 55-60% complete and I estimate a final count of 210-220k words. It should total roughly 1,000 pages, double-spaced, upon completion.
Current chapter listing:
BOOK 1: LYING AWAKE
Prologue: The Prose of Photius, Record One
1: The Autumn Garden
3: Ghosts of Chimon-Jing
4: The Demon
5: The Conclave
6: What Friends are For
7: Helmsman's Folly
8: The Merchant's Arcade
9: Miles from Mine
10: We Should be Sleeping
11: If the Stars are Willing
12: Broken Promises
13: The Only Life I've Ever Known
14: Memories like Mountains
15: What Tomorrow Holds
16: A Lovely Day
18: City on the Winds
19: Grasping at the Stars
20: Event Horizon
21: To Reap a Whirlwind
23: The Heavens Remained Silent
BOOK 2: WRAITHS
Interlude: The Prose of Photius, Record Two
24: Prison Cell(s)
27: The Cost
28: The Voice on the Other Side
The next blog will be about the World map (still under construction) and its evolution.
To those of you who have been following the past two years, thank you for your continued interest and support. Many people have asked about the story and I look forward to presenting it to everyone when it’s complete.
With real gratitude,