by Shelt Garner
In general, the sweet spot for a novel — especially a first novel — is about 100,000 words. Anymore than that and the costs of physically printing the Goddamn thing begins to become an issue. Add to this particular situation the cold, hard fact that any literary agent worth their salt is going to do “due dilligence” on me discover — surprise! — that I’m a drunk crank and, well, oh boy.
I need to keep this first novel at around 100,000 words. This pains me to no end. I say this because, for some reason, the story I want to tell keeps creeping up towards 120,000 to 160,000(!) words. But even I have to admit that things are getting much, much better now that I’ve changed the structure of this first novel to something far more traditional.
My inciting incident is just about where it needs to be and we pretty much get into the story in the second chapter. I’ve noticed in Gone Girl that the inciting incident is in the second chapter with that book so I feel on pretty stable ground on that front.
Now that I’m slowly getting past years of living in delusion about this novel and getting into the bare knuckled phase where I actually have to convince a human being with money to invest in my dream … YIKES. Now that I feel I have a shot at not only not embarrassing myself but coming within shouting distance of getting a literary agent — this first draft of the novel is really good in my opinion — I have to start really dwelling on the practical issues of word count, etc.
I’m still on target to wrap up the second draft at some point in the spring of 2023. That gives me the summer to improve the story to the point that I can querying in fall of 2023.
Now, obviously, what I’m probably going to start doing is start a new novel just as I finish the second draft so I can keep getting that creative rush that developing and writing a novel gives me. But I’m going to be so satisfied when I wrap up — at last — a second draft.
Having a sold second draft done is when the real fun — and hard work — begins. I’m going to need beta readers. I’m going to have to figure out where the money for an actual editor might come from.
Things broke my way with ROKon Magazine for a few months, maybe they’ll break my way with this novel, too. Who knows?