I had attempted to write this novel before. First as a short story of about 10,000 words. When my writing workshop all said “this should be a novel,” I expanded it to about 28,000 words without adding any plot. My goal for National Novel Writing Month was to finish a complete draft 50,000 words longer, or 78,000 words long.
I succeeded at that with a week to spare. What struck me most about this project was how often I felt sure I was failing. I thought the story was out of story at 28,000 words. Then I thought it was out of story at 50k. Then I reached about 76k and thought “That’s it, this thing is done and I can’t add any more”. I started revising from the beginning, and that brought me over.
At one point I deleted a little over 6,000 words. Another time I deleted a 500 word chunk, and twice I deleted about hundred-word chunks. I’m not sure if I could estimate how many total words I deleted on this thing, because of course there are all those one-word deletions and one-sentence “delete, rewrite, delete, rewrite” sequences.
I didn’t have a complete outline. I would outline ahead a few steps by writing sentences at the end of my file. Things like “Somehow they get out of there. Somehow they get rid of the mcguffin. Somehow they fly off into the sunset (Kleo POV).”
If I didn’t know how to proceed, I’d edit and revise what was already written until I did. Then I’d delete the plot-outline sentence and replace it – usually with a few intermediary plot outline sentences. “First plan to get out fails (Kleo’s?). Second plan fails (Margi’s). Third plan succeeds (all characters have a role).”
It’s not a new tactic. It’s one I’ve used before in my writing. I leaned heavily on it this month, though.
The finished draft is about 78,300 words long. I sent it to my first readers and anxiously await their input. It will need more work, of course, but I’m quite happy with it.by