THE SUMMER OF SCRIVENING: A Novel in 10 Weeks – Prologue

Yeah, so I’ve been kinda lax in posting to the old blog of late. Shut up 😉

But I have returned, faithful reader, with a great promise of frequent updates.

See, I find myself with a lot of time on my hands and no summer project to occupy me. So I’ve decided that I’m going to take up the challenge laid down by two of my younger brothers: write a novel by September 1 (they each plan to write one, too, in that time.)

Now, I had been planning to write a novel anyway–I’ve been casually researching various things, including the lives of Mark Twain and Nicola Tesla–but this challenge seems the best way to get my ass in gear and actually do it sooner rather than later…and a good way for me to remind my brothers who the REAL writer in the family is. 😉

While there’s been some debate amongst us as to what word-count actually constitutes a ‘novel’ for the purpose of this contest (I maintain that it’s 100 000 words, which is the average length of a 300ish page mass market paperback) my brother Charlie insists that something much shorter will do.

Orson Scott Card has some interesting thoughts on proper novel length which can be found here. While I stand by what I said about a 100 000 word novel (which OSC backs me up on, by the way) I guess I’ll have to give this one to my brother (the twerp) since for Hugo and Nebula Award purposes a novel is considered to be “a work of 40,000 words or more.”

That having been said, I don’t plan on wimping out like my brothers, so I’m aiming for at least 100 000 words. Whether the story will be done by 100 000 words I’m curious to find out. I don’t think (based on the vague plot I have now) that it will be done in much less than 100 000 words. But I plan to let the story and the characters dictate just how long this tale will be in the telling, and then we’ll see what happens when I redraft the thing in the Fall.

So the plan is this:

The balance of this week I will spend in research, outlining, and drawing up some character sketches/biographies.

Beginning one week from today (that is, by Monday, June 23) I will start writing the actual draft, with the goal of having 100 000 words and/or being finished by Friday, August 29–a period of ten weeks.

Now, 100 000 words breaks down nicely in that time to 10 000 words a week. That subdivides neatly into 2000 words a day, assuming (as I do) that I’ll write Monday through Friday. Weekends I can take off if I feel like it, but any work I get done on Saturdays or Sundays is a bonus towards my word count (or possibly a few days to catch up for any shortfall the previous week–I’m not so naive as to think that writing a novel is so linear a process, that some days things just won’t work out, etc.)

If any of you remember First Annual (and so far ONLY) Great Christmas Write-a-thon I undertook a few years ago, you might comment that attempting 1000 words a day for ten days nearly killed me. And you’d be right. But don’t forget the breakthrough I had at the Writers of the Future workshop! After pounding out 7000+ words in a single day 2000 shouldn’t present too much difficulty, especially once I get rolling. The key I learned was in shutting off the inner editor–that nagging little voice of question and self-doubt that says: “You’re not really going to write that, are you? This really isn’t very good. Maybe you should quit now.”

Not only should this plan allow me to finish the draft before the deadline, but it will also allow me to finish before I go on my long-planned trip to Australia. Having a month or so away from my draft should give the poor souls who volunteer to be my first readers a chance to plow through the pages and make copious notes and will give me as the author some time away from the manuscript as well, hopefully making it clear to me when I return to revise in the Fall just what worked and what didn’t.

Anyway, I’ll be posting fairly often about the progress–certainly weekly, perhaps daily. I’ll probably post anytime I finish a chapter or something, too. We’ll see.

Let the Summer of Scivening begin…in a week.

– S.

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