Friday, April 30, 2010

Finish Line

And that's a wrap. I just finished Failstate. Final wordcount: 111,885. I think this just might be the longest book I've ever written and that's not necessarily a good thing, considering my target had been 80,000 words. Maybe I'll be able to slice the extra 30,000 words off during the rewrite, maybe not. I'm not going to worry about that right now.

Perhaps this isn't the best time for some introspection, but here's my initial thoughts: this was a bear to finish. Like I said a week and a half ago, the ending point seemed to keep moving on me. Every time I thought I had a handle on the plot and what had to happen, more scenes would occur to me, things that I thought I had to include to make the story work. It's little wonder I cracked the 100,000 word mark.

The ending isn't as good as I'd like. I couldn't come up with a killer last line this morning so I'll have to save that for the rewrite. Hopefully one will occur to me between now and then. My wife and I were joking that I should just have Jesus return and end the book that way. But yeah, that would be the ultimate deus ex machina, wouldn't it? That's not what I did, don't worry.

This is the messiest first draft I've ever produced. At least two scenes are in the wrong places, which means that when I start the rewrite, I'll need to do some rethinking about structure. That means that I may have to write some new connecting scenes from scratch. I'm planning on axing one character entirely, removing his subplot from the book. That should help bring down the wordcount. And I need to rework the first 50 pages or so since they're in third person and the last 350 or so are first person.

What's also interesting for me is that this is the fastest I've gone from story idea to completed first draft. Normally I'll think of an idea and let it "mulch" for a while, usually a year or two, before I start work on it. I came up with the idea of Failstate last fall, right after the ACFW Conference. Given the fits this story gave me, I wonder if I rushed things too much. We'll have to see what the rewrite process brings.

So Failstate is going on the shelf for a month or two so I can get some emotional distance from it. That way I can be more clinical when I start hacking it to pieces. In the meantime, I've got some projects waiting for me: editing a novel for one of my parishioners, working on some critiques for the ACFW group. I'm also planning on doing some work on both Return of the Mourning Dove and The Escape. And I'm going to start hitting up publishers for Numb. So while I may not be putting new words down on paper, I'll still be busy with writing.

But it feels good to be finished.