Saturday, June 28, 2008

Getting there

A few minutes ago I finished the edits suggested by my beta (test) reader, Lauri. With her help (and I actually cut more than she suggested), I've slashed the word count from 288,000 down to....

drum roll please....

217,600 words!!!!

That's a grand total of over 70,000 words cut--the length of some novels. I've cut a novel out of my novel.

I haven't yet reached my Seemingly Impossible Goal of 200,000 words. But I'm not by any means through editing this crazy big book. Just going to do a little adding for a bit, first.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Word Loss Update

I'm down to 225,500 words (from 288,000 and change). I've cut out what nearly amounts to a novel, in some genres. It's a little like someone losing enough body weight to equal another person. I don't know whether to be proud of this... or embarrassed.

Once I finish this line by line edit, I plan write the final section I've decided to add back on. And at the same time I'll take a look at the big picture, using an index card method to track the pacing and flow of the story. I'll write a brief outline of each scene on a card, then lay out the cards in order to see if I'm repeating myself, or have scenes that might be interesting but don't pull their story weight. Those will have to go, with any necessary bits threaded into other scenes. Maybe there will be scenes that can be combined to do double duty, or more.

No matter what I do, KINDRED will be a Big Book... but the goal is to make it all muscle (story muscle), and no flabby padding.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hard Work? Yeah, I suppose so....

Recently my grandmother, Margaret, who reads my blog (Hi Grandma!), wrote to me and mentioned that she never realized how much work it is to write a book. Writing is hard work, but I'm pretty sure I chose one of the harder types of books to write--a historical based in a time period I knew very little about, going in.

So, in April of 2004, along with getting my chemo-dulled brain back in gear, crafting the story, creating the characters, working on polishing my then rusty prose skills, and everything else that goes into writing any story, I was obliged to begin my ongoing education in 18th Century History--mostly on, but not limited to, the following subjects:

Colonial and early Federal United States history
Southern plantations (mid-sized plantations, large plantations and subsistence farms)
Great Lakes fur trade
Cabinetmaking, bookbinding, coopering & other 18C trades
Scottish history
Scottish immigration patterns
Interracial relationships between whites, blacks and natives (romantic and otherwise)
Boston history
Agricultural history (tobacco, flax, cotton, corn, kitchen gardens, etc.)
Invention of the cotton gin
Religious movements (Old Light/New Light) and beliefs
18C literature (what were these people reading?)
Music (from war ditties to slave spirituals, what were they singing?)
Food (growing it, raising it, harvesting it, butchering it, preserving it, and serving it)
River ferries (and road conditions and wagons and other means of travel)
Wounds, illnesses and their treatment
Childbirth and midwifery
Scottish dialect (and Gaelic, French, German, Chippewa, and southern slave dialect)
Houses & cabins, and their styles and construction
Household items and furnishings and their proper use
Horses & horse breeding in the old south
Medicinal warm springs in the Blue Ridge
Various Indian tribes (most notably the Cherokee and Ojibwe/Chippewa)
Laws of various states concerning slaves and freed slaves
The role of women in early Federal society
The attitudes and morals and mindsets of the time
Beginnings of the Underground Railroad
Quakers (their history, beliefs, and speech)
Anything and everything to do with North Carolina history
History of the Asheboro, NC area, particularly what is now the Uwharrie National Forest (once called the Carraway Mountains)
18C firearms
Hunting, tracking, wilderness survival skills
How Men Think

On all the above subjects (save the last, which has been purely observational) I've read numerous books. I've kept a bibliography, which I won't list here (as it numbers in the hundreds). This doesn't include novels set in the time period, which I try to read whenever possible, plus websites I've visited and DVDs/documentaries I've watched.

I picked a relatively labor-intensive book to write. Well, it feels more accurate to say it picked me, and as a result I've been gifted with four years of education on our country's founding and early history. I'm still at it, and will continue to research alongside the writing as long as I keep hearing from Ian Cameron, and Seona, and all their kin and connections. As long as they have more story to tell me.

Hard work? Yeah, I suppose it is. But it's daily sprinkled with blessings, and communion, and prayer, and the creative passion that is a shadow, a faint echo, an imitation of our Creator's passion.

And it is, quite simply, fun. A true joy.

Word Count Update: 230,600 (down from 288,000)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Meeting and Word Count and Goals

Had another great meeting with fellow Southern Oregon ACFW members Beth, Lynn, Anne, Bonnie, and Lorena, yesterday, Saturday the 7th of June, at the lovely Heaven On Earth restaurant and bakery. We talked about our careers, the biz, our WIPs, some disappointments and some triumphs, one really scary reader response, and what can happen when a writer is asked to rewrite her manuscript two months before her deadline--yikes! Go Bonnie. Go Bonnie.

Guess I'll mention that my word count is down to 236,000 now. And if my glancing ahead at Lauri's notes on the coming chapters is any indication (and of course if I agree with her suggestions!), that count is about to drop dramatically over the next week or two.

I want to push ahead and finish the current edit, then get busy writing that final section, which should take a few months at the rate I usually write (S-L-O-W). I'd like to have that section completed by September.

Then I'm sure it will need whittling down, like everything I (over)write.