This afternoon, I completed my first draft of my sixth novel,
Intersection Thirteen. It has arrived at a word count of 55,000 words.
I had previously written that I expected this novel to be much longer.
I had many ideas for directions that this novel could have gone, but
in the end, I could not shake the lessons that I learned from Alterra
and Schrödinger’s City, that of economy. Just because a novel can
explore a particular plot path does not mean that it should. If
characters would not believably go and do those things, or if it’s not
thematically or structurally important to actually show those events
(as opposed to simply referencing the fact that they happened from some
actually important scene), then I simply don’t show them.
That said, experience has shown that my first drafts tend to grew. Even
Alterra grew, and I was intentionally keeping that as short as
possible. I would not be surprised if the final word count for
Intersection Thirteen ends up in the 60-65,000 word range after all
edits are complete.
I think this happens because of the way I work. In my first draft, I
have the idea/theme in mind. I create the characters and set about
really figuring them out. I then set up the action and the characters
start to move through it, and I’m typing out everything that’s happening
furiously. However, my mind is always moving a lot faster than I can
actually slam out the words. I think of details, but miss the spot to
articulate them because my mind is already pushing forward to what will
happen next, how the characters are reacting, how other characters are
reacting to them, and on and on. It’s only when I’m going through the
text later that I have time to think through all those events again and
find the proper shape and level of details for each scene.
Did I hit my idea/theme with Intersection Thirteen? I think I got
perhaps 75% of what I intended when I started, which I’m prepared to
call a success. It ended up much less “Course: Oblivion” and much more
“Ozymandias.” In fact, I’m
mostly certain that I’ll be using “Ozymandias” as the novel’s epigraph.
I ended up in a place I’m happy with thematically. I’m prepared to call
that a victory.
I am very, very pleased with the characters, particularly the main
Now the revising begins. As long time readers will know, this is my
least favorite part of the entire process, but it must be done. If
everything goes as planned from here on out, I’ll release Intersection
Thirteen on January 1, 2021.