Newsletter December 2007
Whew! I survived another National Novel Writing Month (Nano)! I wrote pretty much nothing the first week, so I had to dig myself out of a hole by writing much more than the average (1667 words per day) every day. I managed to pass the 50,000 word mark on the 29th. It was tough at first, but in the end, it was as fun as ever. That was my 4th Nano by the way. Other statistics: over 100,000 people signed up for Nano this year, and something like 16,000 finished! Wow, that's a lot of new books. Many agents and editors hate Nano because they don't want to see 16,000 first drafts.
I don't want them to hate me, so now the tough part begins: editing. My story is about a guy who travels to China and gets involved with demons from Chinese mythology. My first job is to finish reading my four volume set of Chinese mythology. It is all wrapped up into one big story called Journey to the West. My hero's journey will parallel the hero in Journey to the West, so my working title is Journey to the East.
The product of Nano month is like a pencil sketch. I have a lot of work ahead of me before it is a publishable novel. In the end it will be a fine oil on canvas painting worthy of a museum (or maybe my mom's refrigerator).
I had a lot of ideas going into the novel, and I was pleasantly surprised when they all came together. And the more I learn about the mythology, the more cool ideas I find. The first round of editing will involve fixing typos and massaging the plot to incorporate all the cool ideas. The goal at the end of the first round is to get all of the pieces in place and in the right order. And it has to be readable. The prose won't be great, but you should be able to read it and get the full story. Right now I have sections that say: "Add a fight scene here" and such. Those all need to be fixed. I may need to cut sections and I definitely need to add sections.
But I won't know what to add until I read Journey to the West. Good think I'm taking a few days off work. I plan to do a lot of reading. Also playing craps. I'll be in Vegas, you see.
Anyhow, I don't want to bore you with the full process, but I'll use subsequent months to keep you posted on the editing process. In the meantime, if you want some reading hints, check out Journey to the West by Wu Cheng'en to learn about Chinese mythology. If you want to get an idea of the style of book I'm creating, read anything by Tim Powers. I'll be reading Last Call this month.
And in a final tidbit, my critiquing buddy and I are going to attempt a joint novel. We came up with the basic idea and characters together, now I'll write a detailed summary/plot outline/synopsis. Next, she'll write the first draft, and then we'll edit it together. Or something like that. We both have our strengths and weaknesses, so we hope to create something together that is better than either of us could do alone. If it sells and we don't kill each other in the process, we'll do it again.
I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and I wish you happy holidays!
PS I'll be putting up this year's calendar photos on the site soon (in the photo gallery). If I get industrious, I'll redo all the calendars on lulu.com so people can get their own copies. Check the front page of the site for info when it happens.