Monday, January 07, 2008

GOT FINS?

ANATOMY of a NOVEL

Distractions:
A day in the life.
6:30 pm and 75 degrees.
Things are never what they seem. Fins. On the surface a playful dophin. Underneath? A hungry shark in disguise.
I start out with a premise that I adore. I love it. Can't wait to start. Write the first sentence. YES!!! and they're off.
1000 words. Oh my gosh. This is GOOD. This is going to be big. BIG I tell you.
5000 words. THIS IS THE BEST F***ing STUFF I'VE EVER WRITTEN!!!
10,000 words. hmmm should I change the male nurse to a female transvestite? And a cat. Maybe a dog. Or a fish. And the location. Greece, I think...
20,000 words. This is going nowhere. Maybe a novella. If I do a novella this could be the first draft. I could be done.
30,000 words. Okay what else. There's not enough story here. Instead of Greece maybe Peoria...but that kind of nixes the transvestite. I'll make her a plumber.
40,000 words. Oh no. Now the cat is the main character. And he's swearing too much.
50,000 words. This sucks. No. This REALLY sucks. This sucks so much it's reverse suck.
60,000 words. I'll change the title. Good. Now I have to change the main character's name. Now the POV. I wonder what it would be like in first person limited Omniscient?
70,000 words. I guess it WAS better third person. I'm moving it to Greece again and changing her back to a transvestite.
75,000 words. Portland. How about Portland. And her name's Michelle. No. Donna. No. Sally. No. Leah. No. I think Michelle is good.
80,000 words. Hey. This is getting good. Just a few more line edits (note to self- are there kangaroos in New Zealand)
85,000 words.Oh my gosh. This is GOOD. This is going to be big. BIG I tell you.
90,000 words. This really sucks...

So that's how it is for me. How is it for you?

38 comments:

Holly Kennedy said...

"20,000 words: This is going nowhere. Maybe a novella. If I do a novella this could be the first draft and I could be done"

THIS is me in a nutshell! Lazy lazy me always feeling crushed under the weight of the project. Never ever cutting words. Not me. But painfully adding one page at a time.

The rest of your post sometimes rings true, only I seem to go through all those acrobatic back-and-forths mentally BEFORE I write it down. You know (see above) I'm lazy, lazy, lazy!

Leatherdykeuk said...

*laughs*
That's exactly how I write!

Les said...

Well, this made me laugh so hard my morning coffee is splattered all over my keyboard and monitors! How's that?! :)

I can't wait to read your next book, whatever it may be about. Hey, Lesley's a good name. ;)

BTW, I posted my Best of 2007...

inherwritemind1 said...

Totally true, and very funny.

Ric said...

That says it pretty good. Been there, done that, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeatedly, repeatedly - wait, can't use adverbs - ah, crap, go back, search and remove adverbs, damn, went from 50,000 to 20,000 words....

though a Greek transvestite cat named Michelle has possibilities.

Trish Ryan said...

I'm still at..."but could it maybe be a nice shark? Or one that's simply misunderstood?"

Merry Jelinek said...

I thought that was how everyone wrote a novel ;-)

This gave me a great laugh this morning!!! I especially like the swearing cat.

Katrina Stonoff said...

ROFL! I thought I was the only one who changed characters' names. Multiple times.

Brenda said...

Ha ha ha....SO typical of all writers!

Val Cox said...

I love it, very funny! Good to know that even the professions get stuck and have doubts!

Mary Akers said...

Exactly the same!! (You made me laugh outloud.) :)

ORION said...

How many keyboards ruined?
My work here is done.

Heidi the Hick said...

REVERSE SUCK!!!!!

ahahaha!

yeah. Me too.

(i'm kinda glad to know I'm not the only one who goes through all this self doubt.)

Kim Stagliano said...

Newbie doubts came into play during revision stage when I had an agent. Stakes are SO much higher than when I first sat down on a lark to write a book. Then it was fun. Now = I still adore it. But there's more pressure to get it right so it will sell. But "right" keeps moving under my feet like quicksand. You're telling me even when you've had a big deal, well received book it doesn't get any better? Damn you! :)

Travis Erwin said...

Funny. I've said it before and I'll say it again.

Writing fiction has more ups and downs than the bedsprings of a bordello.

The Anti-Wife said...

Have you been spying on me again?

Mary said...

That shark tried to eat me!
I escaped with my life and a soggy novella.

Word Verification: dry et !!!

Ello said...

That is so me except it all happens in 10,000 words.

Oh you crack me up! I don't care what you say - whatever you write is bound to be great and hysterically funny!

Chumplet said...

Yup. You nailed it. I'm writing two completely different novels and if I'm not careful they'll meld into each other.

Then I'll have my own personal WTF moment.

ORION said...

Oh I love WTF moments. The explosion of two novels crashing into each other and ?
The big bang of book creation...

Therese said...

I've been to Peoria, and I think I met that plumber. Her name was Dot.


When I'm starting a new novel, my word count goes back to zero repeatedly, until one day the light of creation stays on and I know I'm "there."

Or, I think I'm there.

I'm pretty sure I'm there...

It's too late to go anywhere else...

Today, the status is 95000 sucky words that my agent and editors will surely despise.

So Kim--no, it doesn't get any better!

The Writers' Group said...

How reassuring to know we're each a mess.

Amy MacKinnon

Demon Hunter said...

Mine is a different kind of crazy, Pat. I do feel like pulling my hair out sometimes---and setting it on fire! :*)

Michelle O'Neil said...

I definately think you should stick with "Michelle."

Kanani said...

20,000 words... am I going to have 50?

50,0000 words... is this thing ever going to end?

65,000 words... What words am I going to take OUT?

45,000 words.. .. I have taken out too much stuff.

But believe me, try writing travelogues for travel books, where you have, say, 35 words to describe the history of Ensenada.

Kimber An said...

Ahhh! Shark! I am entirely too easily alarmed today.

Church Lady said...

Heh! Heh!
95,000 words is like two and a half middle-grade novels. I don't know how you grown-up novelists do it.
Seriously.
But fun photo!
:-)

Bernita said...

~snickers~
I'm at the 30,000 word mark...

Kiskadee said...

And then comes revision, when in the cool light of dawn you look at the crap you've written and wonder where the bottle is.

Here's a little film by a fellow writer that says it all:
http://rogersplog.blogspot.com/2008/01/day-two-of-writers-life.html
Aruna

ORION said...

Ah yes...revision...
Revision is another animal entirely.
A monkey.
Or maybe a snake.
Or a kangaroo hopping all over the place...

Janet said...

How is it for me? Much the same way as it is for you, except that my mood swings tend to occur every 100 words.

Maprilynne said...

That is exactly what it is like for me!! (Did you read my journal??) I remember two days before my book sold I mentally gave up writing altogether because everything I'd written was utter and complete dreck! Luckily, someone disagreed.:)

Roberta said...

You know the struggle.

Try typing 'the end' every few thousand words (just for laughs).

violetlady said...

I was so excited that you left a comment on my blog. I'm glad you drag google for your name - how else would you have found me? My husband's dream - to live on a boat again. Mine - to own a horse again. Oh - and to write something word reading! I enjoy your blog - funny and enlightening.

BClark said...

Oh, I love it. What a super thing to be able to live and love what you are doing. I found you on Violet Ladies blog and am now going to have to read all you have to say. Of course I will be green the whole time, envy is a terrible condition. Barbara

Bookfool said...

That's kind of my recent life in a nutshell. Things look good and then they totally suck. Thanks for the laugh. I kept my coffee away from my keyboard, thank goodness. :)

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH! I came to the blog to re-read something about post-it notes and plot. I'm sitting here struggling with thoughts of POV, Characters, which character will be the one responsible for the really good murder scene...blah blah blah (almost none of it written down because I don't seem to have the discipline to sit and write...I just mostly worry it to death in my head). Then i see your blog and I laugh so loudly my man gives me a dirty look for interrupting his phone call. I can't help it. I'm SO SO SO SO happy that someone who is published, whose book i LOVED, also participates in second-guessing and mind changing. Woohooo! There's hope for me (IF i stop typing in blogs and start typing in my word document!!!) Thanks for sharing! ~~Dawn

ORION said...

Oh worrying to death in our heads is a GREAT place to start...but yes. At some point you HAVE to sit down and put something on paper.
Otherwise how can you start changing things LOL!