Thursday, June 12, 2008

The End

I just wanted to share that tonight I reached those two magical words, "The End", in my modern fantasy novel, The Farmer Takes a Life. My goal was to reach 80,000 words during the month (I actually started on 16 May); the final total came in at 81,696 words, or about 460 manuscript pages. It took me 28 days to get the first draft done.

I still need to fix one major plot hole. I decided that for best dramatic effect, I needed to move a scene from the beginning of Act II to the end of Act II. Unfortunately, an item which appears for the first time in and is critical for the moved scene also needs to appear in the (now) earlier scene. I'm not sure how I'm going to fix that, but I made the decision not to slow down writing the first draft to figure it out. I think it was probably the right choice.

I also think I will expand a couple of chapters that focus on the protagonist's friends when they are separated -- they could use the character development. As long as I keep it under 100,000 words total, I should be okay. The story is good, but the writing is, as I believe Nora Roberts put it, words vomited onto the page. That will get fixed in the months to come. I'll be using WriteWay ( for the revision process -- great for moving scenes around and organizing research.

Some statistics and advice for those who might be interested:

  • I usually wrote between 3000 and 4000 words (15 to 20 pages) a day.
  • I wrote every day, including weekends, except for taking my birthday (the 30th) off, and the two days I had a 102 fever from food poisoning (and I managed to write 1200 words each day even then).
  • I usually spent between 3 and 4 hours to reach my 3000-word goal each day.
  • I took a five or ten minute break every 500 words. This was very, very important -- otherwise I would have been too fatigued to write the next day.
  • If you are writing in the present day, get a copy of The Writer's Guide to Places, by Prues and Heffron. It saved me from having to get up to research locations on the Net. I'll still need to do research to flesh it out, but I didn't have to interrupt the writing of the first draft.
  • Get an AlphaSmart Neo ( Seriously. It's the best writing investment you'll ever make. You can write anywhere and in short snatches. It doesn't require booting up orshutting down, no need to save, and it's always ready when you've goteven five minutes to spare.
  • The computer is far too much of a distraction for me. I had to stay away when writing, hence the Neo was absolute godsend.
  • Most of my writing was done between 10 AM and 3 PM, though as mentioned, I found I could write pretty much anytime with the Neo.

It's a good feeling to finally have the whole story down on paper. I'm going to be taking a course in writing a query letter from Gotham Writers' Workshop that is supposedly going to be taught by an agent. One of the agents who sometimes teaches the course is actually the very agent who is first on my list, so it's a good opportunity. I've got a long way to go before I'm ready to send anything out, though.

I do, however, have a marketing plan for the novel. The book just screams for bumper stickers and t-shirts. There are some way-cool sayings that kept popping into my head as I was writing. It'd be fun to see those around town! I have also reserved a domain name,, which will serve as the home page for the series.

Much rejoicing!

1 comment:

Corinne Vinopol said...

Hi Keith,

I am interested in your participating on a project to make scientific material and media accessible to people who are deaf, blind, and deaf-blind. NOAA and NASA are collaborating. Can you contact me to discuss this possibility?


Corinne Vinopol, Ph.D.
President, IDRT
(301) 942-4326 V/TTY