In today’s Journal
* The Novel
* New Goal
* The Great Pretender
* Of Interest
A very happy Thanksgiving indeed. (grin)
The novel wrapped yesterday at 57,535 words after I cut just under 5,000 more words and wrote maybe a hundred words to wrap it.
But I thought it would be silly to add more “cuts” to the totals under Numbers and then try to figure out exactly how many new words I wrote to wrap the story, so instead I’m just reporting the final count here.
If you’re keeping score, I cut around 14,000 words out of this novel all told, but most of the 5000 words I cut yesterday will go into the next installment of the series.
The novel tally had reached 62,486 words, but on Wednesday afternoon the writing began to slow again, dramatically. I thought maybe I’d written past the end of a chapter, so I checked. Nope, that wasn’t it.
So I sat back and looked at the overall story from The 13-Month Turn forward. Still couldn’t find it. (If you’d like a FREE copy of The 13-Month Turn, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know whether you want PDF, .epub or .mobi.)
Then a litte light bulb went on. In a first, I read over the reverse outline for this novel. And that’s when I realized this particular novel was predominantly Rose’s story. I had indeed written past the end of it.
But I tested it to be sure. I removed three chapters from the reverse outline, which I first saved under a different file name, of course. And I immediately saw that this part of the story was finished.
The three chapter I removed will be included in the next installment of the series. (If you’re wondering, when I write that installment I won’t count those words again. I’ll just start with that particular word count—4951—instead of zero.)
Either way, I’ll write a novel or two (or more) in some other world(s) before I come back to write the third novel (and maybe the fourth) in this series.
I’ve said many times before that every novel writes differently. I hope I never have another one that writes the way this one did. Of course, a lot of that was based on the attitude I had when I started writing this one (it was “important”). I definitely won’t do that again.
For the rest of this year, my goal is to write two more novels. That gives me 36 days, or 18 days per novel if you toss out one day. Should be plenty of time.
The Great Pretender—as I wrote briefly yesterday, this is a truly great song but a shameful profession.
I’m not talking about those poor souls who talk about writing fiction but never quite get around to it, those who have a great idea for a novel but haven’t yet put a word on the page, and those who buy all the how-to-write books and follow writing blogs and attend writers’ conferences but don’t have a publication or an active manuscript they can actually show you.
Those folks are largely harmless except to themselves, and frankly, it’s none of my business how they waste their time or money. I do hope they eventually find a way to just trust themselves. They aren’t pretenders, at least not in the sense that they actively harm other writers’ growth.
Here I’m talking about the harmful pretenders.
So maybe I’m talking a little about Stage 1 & 2 writers who hold forth regularly on the writing craft. Don’t get me wrong. They know how to put words and punctuation on the screen by tapping keys on a keyboard. But they don’t know Story yet, and they don’t know how to convey one yet. Simply because they haven’t practiced enough to experience that aha! moment.
Yet they profess to be storytellers, and through their mostly innocent ignorance they steer dozens or hundreds of other writers into mistakes they themselves have not yet found a way to escape.They need to stop teaching others a craft at which they’re still beginners themselves, but I’m sure they won’t.
But I’m mostly talking about those who don’t write novels or short stories themselves, but who profess to be able to teach others how to write novels or short stories. As a copyeditor, I’ve been cleaning up after them for years.
You might be surprised at how vehemently a writer Who Actually Hired Me to Copyedit His/Her Work will defend some completely inane technique or word or phrase that some non fiction-writing “instructor” told him or her was the right way to do things.
There’s a quote that perfectly explains the attitude: Twain’s “Its easier to fool people than it is to convince them they’ve been fooled” is absolutely spot on.
But it isn’t really so much about convincing them they’ve been fooled as explaining to them there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. After all, most of us have been there. But if they want to improve as a fiction writer, they have to find a way to shake off the mushroom fodder the “instructor” fed them by the shovelful, pull up their big-person pants and get on with learning the writing craft from people who actually write fiction for a living.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve argued with well-meaning writers as I tried to correct their false perception of “show, don’t tell” or “kill all your darlings” or “active voice” or “passive voice” or “deep POV” or “present tense is more immediate” and on and on and on.
False writing instructors use those and many other buzz-phrases because they sound good, and dutiful students nod and take notes and never think to ask the instructor, “Um, what does that mean specifically?”
Of course, no surprise there. Those students are the same ones who bought the how-to book or signed up for the lecture or workshop without bothering to even check Amazon to see whether their would-be teacher has ever written so much as a novel.
Folks, learning anything about writing fiction from those people is like learning to set the headspace and timing on an M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun from a university professor who’s never been in the military. It’s like seeking legal advice from a plumber or plumbing advice from a lawyer. Basically, it’s like a fish on a bicycle: it makes absolutely no sense.
But back to the buzz-phrase instructors: If they can’t explain or refute (and explain why it should be refuted) all of the above and more, as I wrote yesterday they shouldn’t be teaching anyone to write fiction, or even a grocery list. The guy will probably have you buying plastic grapes to garnish your supper.
Now, I understand at least a few writers who read this probably will be annoyed with me. To those, my apology. As always, do what you think is best. I can only sound the alarm.
Talk with you again soon.
See “The Spectacular Life of Octavia Butler” at https://www.vulture.com/article/octavia-e-butler-profile.html. Apologies if you hit a paywall. My suggestion would be to pay the one dollar for a trial, read what you want (there are three more links in the article), then cancel.
The Journal…………………………………… 1150 words
Writing of Santa Fe (novel, tentative title)
Day 1…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX
Total fiction words for November……… 36877
Total fiction words for the year………… 198402
Total nonfiction words for November… 18040
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 193670
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 392072
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: In this blog I share my experiences, good and bad, as a prolific professional fiction writer. Because It Makes Sense, I trust my characters to tell the story that they, not I, are living. This greatly increases my productivity and provides the fastest possible ascension along the learning curve of Craft because I get a great deal more practice at actually writing.