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 character.
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.