I haven’t posted to my blog in a little over two months now, so I feel like it’s finally time to have an update.
I am closing in on 75,000 words for my second draft of Into the West and boy, the more I work the more I realize how much work there is left to be done. It’s very easy to stand here most of the way up the side of Second Draft Hill and see the Peaks of Completion far away, beyond the valley of Draft 3, and the Draft 4 switchbacks. Obviously, Beta Reader Ridge is in there as well, and that will be a challenge in and of itself. Looking back down at First Draft Gulch, I feel like the parking lot is still firmly in view. Never a good sign.
I like to keep meticulous track of my writing behavior, as seen above. Most of this new draft is fresh words, and basically a whole new draft. It feels like editing but on the whole, it’s a re-write. And every new scene I add broadens the scope of the novel, so I will need to triage the scenes and narrow it back down. For the time being, it’s a write everything, throw ideas at the wall to see what sticks process, which I am fine with. For the first two months of this draft, I was writing about 60% of days. As the COVID-19 quarantine dragged on, my interest in video games unexpected died and parental duties increased, we’ve balanced out to about 40% of days writing. Ideally, I’d like to be writing every day, but it’s usually not feasible.
One of my biggest struggles right now is my first act. I want to tell a story about an expedition to the West and what happens there. That expedition doesn’t start until Act 2 right now, nearly 25,000 words (~85 pages) into the story. So I am struggling to figure out what should and should not be in the story to set up the expedition as best as possible while maintaining character motivations and introducing the players in the book well.
The first act is troubling me so much that I’ve sent it out to be read by a trusted, knowledgeable alpha reader while I continue working on the second and third acts of the novel. Part of me knows what needs to happen, which is strip out 80% and make the whole first act punchier, but I want more opinions before I begin to hack.
Of my other writing endeavors, I have been working on my third mythology installment for nearly four months now. I’m not surprised to have had this fall off as I started working on the draft again, but I am disappointed it’s taken this long. There is so much interesting material on Mongolian folklore and myth that I want to do the topic justice before publishing, but be on the lookout for that here soon (hopefully).
Lastly, I wanted to share this amazing piece of artwork from Peter Mohrbacher that I have been using as inspiration for a scene I recently wrote. Whenever my book is published, bonus points to whoever finds the similarities first, assuming these similarities make it into the final draft.