Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Current Project: Balfrith

The novel I'm working on at the moment is about a young man, Balfrith, who runs away from home at the age of fifteen, and comes of age during his various adventures in the world. I'm not going to claim it's a particularly original plot, but I'm enjoying the story creation process and I think I've got some good characters and good ideas here. The plot outline is almost complete at this point; I need to flesh out a couple of chapters near the end, but the basics are all there. The outline is 13,000 words, which would translate to about 45 pages double-spaced. By the time the outline is done it will likely be close to 15,000 words.

For those of you who aren't writers, an "outline" isn't the indented bullet point style of outlining you may be used to or thinking of. Rather, a novel outline is more like a plot synopsis, an essay explaining what happens through the story from beginning to end. It's like a skeleton, having the complete form of a person but without the flesh and blood that makes it live.

Based on the plot outline, I have about 16 chapters (things may shift around somewhat, but it will probably be between 16 and 18 chapters). My style of writing makes a chapter typically run about 20 pages, so the total novel length should come to about 320 pages, and 100,000 words. I know all this because I've written 5 novels over the past 15 years, and I've got a pretty good feel for these things by now.

Assuming I can keep making time to work on the outline, I should be able to finish it in the next couple of weeks, and then I'll sit back for a week or two and rest. This will let the plot sit in my subconscious and simmer, which then usually brings some additional ideas bubbling to the surface. It typically doesn't change anything material in the story, but may add some interesting details that I hadn't thought of yet. Then I will figure out if I can incorporate those ideas into the story, and where, and add them to the outline. After that, I call it "done" and start writing the novel itself.

Inevitably, I'll get more interesting ideas as I'm writing the novel. This is a good thing, and I'll have to vet each one as I go to see if it fits into the story. Many of them will make it into the final product; some will be set aside for inclusion in a later story. It's all part of the writing process.

I'm not going to make any predictions as to when I think I'll be done with the rough draft of the novel. I've written short (50,000 words) novels in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month, and I've written 110,000 word novels that took over a year (that was actually my first novel). I hope this one takes less than a year to complete, but you never know.

Anyway, those are a few highlights of the project, and a little bit about my writing method and style. I'm going to post here once a day (I was going to say "try to post", but in the words of Yoda, "There is no try. Only do, or do not."). I actually have several ideas for blog posts, but I want to pace myself and keep it down to once a day. That forces me to stay focused on the novel, too, since I won't spend so much time playing with this blog that I forget to work on the novel itself. :-)

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