My Novel: A Progress Report.

Over the weekend I finished the third draft of my novel, Flowers for Dionysus. It’s a pretty exciting time, though there is still much work to be done. This draft didn’t take me too long. Just under eight weeks or so.

Right now it comes in at around 120,000 words, which by most research is the high end of the acceptable range of the average novel these days.  Though some have said that the higher end of that range is usually reserved for science fiction, I am not ceding that territory to one genre. Rather I am going to tell the story I want to tell, and take as many words as I feel it needs.

That being said, if I can shave a few thousand words, I won’t be upset. Yet that is for the fourth draft, which my self imposed deadline will not require me to complete until December 15th of this year. It will remain in third draft mode for at least a few months before I think of starting the next draft.

While the second draft was about getting rid of chapters and scenes that I determined weren’t needed at all, as well as basic house keeping, this third draft was mostly about streamlining sections that have made the cut already. With few exceptions, I didn’t eliminate entire scenes or encounters in the third draft, though some were changed and shortened quite a bit as a result of eliminating entire pages of same.

I also added a few brief spacers here and there which shed a bit more light on some aspects of the characters that I thought I may have left too much in the dark in the previous draft.

My hope is that I also deepened the brief interludes I take into the lives of several of the characters. My novel has a total of five points of view, though one is the most prominent, and one is only utilized four times or so in the entire piece. Yet each character who’s point of view we visit is experiencing a smaller arc that ties into the larger arc of the story, and I had been concerned that in some cases the smaller arcs were being rushed.

I want to keep these smaller arcs, I just don’t want too overwhelm the reader with them, which could happen if I wasn’t careful. I could delve deeply into the lives of each of them, but I made a conscious decision to only include certain bits. Yet I don’t want them to appear as throw-aways either. The challenge will be to convey each character’s journey as equally important, even though not as much ink is dedicated to each. I think I achieved that better in this third draft than in the second.

The age old metric of “showing not telling”, though over-preached is nonetheless in better effect in the third draft, than it was in the second. That accounted for about half of the edits this time I would estimate.

I may also begin to look more seriously into the publishing options available to me now that the third draft is behind me. The more I read, the more I lean towards self-publishing to be honest, though I have by no means ruled out trying to find an agent to sell it to a traditional house. (Not a Big Five, however.) I will be exploring both avenues more in depth now, whereas before now I was only keeping a casual ear to the ground in regards to how things work.

For now I look forward to giving the creative work on this piece a rest for a few months, and instead allow people to enjoy it as is. I may even return to the broad outlining of my second novel, half of which I outlined while others read the second draft of my current novel. I’ve had some time away from that project, and it may be fresh again if I return to it now. (Editing one novel while outlining the other didn’t seem feasible to me.)

I don’t yet know who I will allow to read the third draft, with a few exceptions. But I do know I am looking forward to hearing the impressions people have of same.

My novel breaks several of the rules and conventions that people say a novel, especially a debut novel must follow. I am not ashamed of that, especially when every week it seems I read a story of some nobody who broke rules and ignored trends, and just got plucked out of thin air by an agent that made them famous. I am not saying that always happens, but I am saying it happens enough to people who believe in the vision of their story that I am not currently inclined to hammer my manuscript into absolute conformity with the tendencies of today’s publishing industry. (Which will be different two weeks from now anyway, most likely.)

The adventure continues…

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