Numbers and Words
I've been dealing with weird issues as I write this draft. First of all, I'm taking a different approach to writing this time around or at least it has a very different feel. The pace seems much slower and I don't think it's just because I haven't been able to find a steady schedule where I write for large blocks of uninterrupted time time day after day. As, essentially, a caregiver for a pregnant woman there are lots of responsibilities floating around. This is okay; I have to get used to it if I'm going to be able to write when there are twin babies around. So far I think I've made that adjustment as good as can be expected. I'm making progress, despite my complete shrugging off of the June 25 deadline. A week later, I'm still a chapter out from that milestone.
But that brings me to the next point. My Dad has often suggested that I take it easy with the writing and make sure I'm getting it right, doing it well (probably because my writing status updates often come in the form of words or chapters written). This go around, rather unintentionally, though most likely because I'm trying to balance so many different concerns as I revise (suggestions from different readers, things I want to do, worries over length, pacing, voice) I'm going much slower. I hope this means I'm getting it right. The first two chapters felt that way; they felt really well put together, almost like they were done.
These next few don't feel that way. They feel bloated and overlong. I'm trying to shorten the novel as whole, but from what my readers have been telling me, the second half of the book is good just the way it is. They say it's an exciting page turner with lots of action and a good pace. They all want me to cut from the beginning. Unfortunately, as I've tried to snip and sew, cut and paste, grabbing the good from seven chapters and shove them into five, the chapters are swelling in word count and I'm afraid will read like a scrap book of poorly thrown together photographs, scenes cut short and smashed together with forced transitions. Yes, overall the book is getting much shorter, but I don't feel like I'm doing any justice to this portion of the novel that was admittedly weak at the outset.
Readers do notice chapter length. One who read my second draft made a note when he felt there was a chapter of "perfect length." How important is it to have balanced chapters of similar length? With the first two fit to that perfect-reader length and the following swollen to nearly twice that at times, I'm really worried about how to proceed and how to fix that. I could make new chapter breaks, maybe adding another chapter, but I wasn't trying to add more. Then again, word count was my measure in terms of length, not chapters. Is it better to have long chapters or short chapters?
All this talk of numbers has me thinking the problem is, for once, the thinking about it and not the actual work being done. My dad talks about quality, but here I am trying to quantify everything. Length is an important consideration, but how high a priority should it be? Right now, I can't help but look at the word count as I write and that's probably not conducive to producing quality material. Maybe that's why I'm going so slow. Trying to balance number of words and the right words. Then again, time is also measured in numbers.
Worst comes to worst, this will just take longer and longer, but it'll still get done. I'm almost "done" with that section. The quotes are because when I'm finished, I'll be going back to see if it actually is working and I'm just being a butt, or if I need to rewrite the whole swath of chapters. Worst things have happened. I want to get right - even if that means stuffing it into a box with a word limit on it.
Until next time, I'm Eric and I'm an unpublished novelist.