This Third Draft Of My First Novel Is Getting Really Good — But

by Shelt Garner

The original script for The Blues Brothers was over 300 pages long. While I don’t quite have the problem that Dan Akroyd had with that project when it comes to length, I definitely have a problem.

In number of scenes, at least, the first act of this novel is going to equal the entire second act. This is bad structure. And, yet, I think what I’m going to do is just finish an “alpha” release of the third draft then take stock of things. I will have two options depending on how things work out.

If the novel is no more, than, say, 140,000 words, then I will just say damn the torpedoes’ full speed ahead and try to pitch what I have. If the final alpha release is closer to 160,000 words, I’m going to think seriously about splitting it in two and connect the two novels through a cliffhanger.

No matter what, I think I need to YET AGAIN try to begin work on a backup project — probably a scifi novel. I have a really good scifi take on pandemic fiction that I think I could probably knock out pretty quick because I have so much more experience about how to write a novel after years of struggle.

But I am really pleased with how this third draft is sorting itself out. The big issue is there are all these elements to the novel that simply can’t be “yadda yadda yadda’d” if I want to do it properly. Now that I know how to tell a story, I realize that writing a novel — at least for me — is a lot like trying to move a huge ship one way or another.

You can’t just turn on a dime. If you think up a really cool element of the story with a secondary POV character, you have to give that element some thought or otherwise people will feel cheated.

That’s why I have a huge first act at the moment. And, yet, I try to comfort myself by realizing that the first act of The Girl Who Played With Fire is just as enormous. All this goes back to the cold, hard fact that the point of writing a novel is to equally tell a good story and finish the Goddamn thing.

So as long as I serve up a great story to readers, I doubt the average person will get too worked up that it has an enormous first act. And, remember, the issue is there are a number of known unknowns. I just know scene number, not length. And I haven’t rewritten the rest of the novel that is already written from the second draft.

So, I’m going to buckle down and finish the third draft without much regard to some pretty basic issues. Once the alpha release is done, THEN I can make an executive decision as to what to do next.

Author: Shelton Bumgarner

I am the Editor & Publisher of The Trumplandia Report

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