Bo looked at me with a Gromit-ish eye roll, but was proud, nonetheless.
Part of the plan put to me by Gerri Santiago involved splitting my manuscript for Fallen Princeborn: Stolen into two books. She explained that the word count was a bit much for Young Adult.
150,000 words is too much? That’s only 600some pages of…you know, a debut novel from an author hardly a soul knows.
Okay, let’s split it.
The most apt place for the severance comes at the end of Fallen Princeborn‘s second act: the heroes have just battled one crew of baddies and are regrouping before the baddie crew arrives. With Stolen’s new arc set, Gerri has been helping me see areas where world-building can use more color, where pov voices require more definition–you know, the stuff I bother other writers about in my interviews. As Book 1 blooms all bright and pretty, Act III-turned-Book 2 looks more and more…wee.
I open the “book” and scope out its word count.
Where’s the book?
A single act does not a book make. It introduces fresh villains, sure, but Book 2’s narrative can’t pick up immediately where Stolen leaves off without some fresh establishment of the core cast, touching up on the setting, redefining the voices of the protagonists and narrator, and bringing in EVERYTHING THAT MAKES A STORY.
No, Writer Me, don’t panic. That’s still 50,000 words of material to utilize. Those characters who only got a cameo so they could be saved for later? Let’s flesh’em out now. That whole new breed we introduce but don’t really dwell on? Visit their realm and see what makes them tick. The new villains we get to meet in these 50,000 words? Give’em more words. Let them breed a bit more treachery, let them show their gilded goodness before their truly nasty mettle. And just what are these people, anyway? Let’s wade into the murky swamp of Magic’s history.
Thanks to the severance, these trying times for the heroes have a chance to be truly trying. Why cram all these dramatic moments together? This is a book, not a movie trailer.
But while Fallen Princeborn originally had eight years to mature, Book 2 needs to be rewritten in half a year while maintaining some semblance of motherhood over the little Bs, teaching, writing book reviews, website stuff, and more. These obligations are not going away. By hook or by crook, Book 2’s manuscript must be completed by June’s end.
That’s only, oh, another 50,000 words…the same word count challenge for National Novel Writing Month. This means writing at 1700 words a day, or fall short of the finish line.
Panic wastes time and energy. No.
I once wrote about writing and parenting with all three kids at home. Time to pull out the old plan and crank it up from past needs to present.
First, contact the school district and enroll all three in summer school. Now I have mornings sans kids for about half the month.
Next, dig through all the kid movies. What hasn’t been watched in a while? Save it. Use it during the first chunk of June. If the kids are engaged, they won’t fight for a couple of hours.
Talk to Bo. Work out any days he can get home early, or when home projects can be done on week nights so the weekends can be saved for extra writing time.
See how other writers maintain their NaNoWriMo-ness when NaNoWriMo ain’t goin’ on. Fantasy writer John Robin, for instance, has a great idea for maintaining the NaNo drive off the clock.
Yeah, there’s a deadline, and yeah, it’s frickin’ scary. Some days I might only get 1,000 words done, or even less, and then other days crank out an insane 5,000. The point is we can’t afford to think about the time we don’t have. We must embrace the race to write. Steal every minute we can. There will be stumbling blocks, there will be plot holes, but we’ll get to those in the editing. For now, it’s time to hurl ourselves into the story and run.