Pleasantly Surprised

A little while ago, as I said here, I received my free proof copy of something I wrote during NaNo last year.  Its final wordcount comes in at 300,010 words, and according to my records, I wrote it in the last 8 days of the month. The organization of it is both structured and chaotic – there are fifteen points of view and twenty sections. Within each section is 1k from each of the POVs, in a random order (no, really, I used a randomness generator) assigned before the month began. This comes out as snappy and head-jumpy and a little disorienting.

To be honest, I hadn’t actually looked at since November 30th, when I closed the file and went downstairs to jump around in celebration, have a SoCo and lime, and watch House (f’reals, that’s what I did). But when it came to the decision of which one I wanted to make into my free Createspace book, this one won out. The trilogy I wrote was slightly better organized, but much more poorly written, and the other two were only 50k apiece. By the time I finished this one, I knew that it would require a massive overhaul and probably wouldn’t even resemble the finished product. I told myself that I would read it before sending it off to get printed and bound, but somehow I never got around to it (my laziness astounds me.)

When I actually got the copy, I figured that I should probably read it, if only for shits and giggles. The last 50-some thousand were written in under 24 hours, and as it was the last thing I wrote that month, my brain and my good sense were fairly well worn out.

So I sat down with it. (For the record, the binding held up remarkably well, and the interior looks nice enough; the paper is thick enough that it doesn’t feel like it’ll tear anytime soon). I started to read.

You know what?

It’s actually not that bad.

To be fair, the first 20,000 words – when I was still figuring out who all these characters were – are mind-numbingly boring and disconnected. The next 40,000 words or so, when I was trying to get the plot moving towards something that approached progression, are only marginally better. But after that, when the characters start actually doing things and interacting with each other, it’s not so bad. There are surprisingly few grammar/spelling goofs, and I didn’t run spelling/grammar checks before sending it off to Createspace.

The ending isn’t that hot. I think I was in such a rush to get the last bit done with, that I sort-of forgot the ending that I’d been building up to and sidetracked from it by quite a large margin.

Most of the characters are interesting enough, though there are a couple who shouldn’t be nearly as boring as they come over. I mean, I have a serial killer movie star, a propaganda director turned film director turned propaganda director, an egomaniacal Congressman, and a television evangelist, to name a few.

Some of the plot lines fizzle out because they simply weren’t as interesting when I was writing it as others (there are about four or five through the course of the book), and so they got less attention and less care.

Right now, it ain’t close to publishable. Even if 300,000 words were acceptable for a first novel, I’d still have to beg people to slog on through the first two sections of the book before there was even the promise of something good happening, and they’d probably skim the boring parts through the rest of the book as much as I did – unless they just got tired of the constant head-hopping and threw it against the wall.

Before I reread it, I wasn’t sure that it was even salvageable in anything like its present form. It’s exactly the sort of story I like to write, though, and I held onto some glimmer of hope as I started to reread it. Now that I’m done, I think it really can be saved. I even think most of the characters will stick around, though I’m going to have to figure out how to streamline things a bit more effectively unless I want the next draft to be even longer. (Or maybe I’ll just save this one to be my fifth or sixth novel, when perhaps I’ll have more clout with my publisher…[hah, I wish!])

But for now, I’m just going to be happy.

(and, uh, get back to Burning Eden revisions).

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3 Comments

Filed under Nanowrimo 09

3 responses to “Pleasantly Surprised

  1. blackwatertown

    A serial killer movie star sounds interesting.
    I am currently proofing a novel I have written. Every now and then I find a continuity error or a plot problem. So I solve it. Then I discover that in fact I had it covered in the original version. It’s a pleasant surprise to discover that I did in fact have at least a slight clue about what I was doing.
    The book is called Blackwatertown. There’s a very short excerpt here http://wp.me/pDjed-7I

  2. Pedro

    I’ve seen very few of your work, but really liked it. And the dedication, and the advice, and all that too.

    A question: do you have your keyboard mapped as QWERTY, Dvorak, or something else?

  3. Joe Union

    Kateness? Is everything okay? This lurky reader is wondering where you are.

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