My word count is now roughly 80k, but it's a mostly meaningless number since some of my last chapters aren't so much written as outlined. For instance, I have a scene in chapter eighteen where I have a character who is more or less a wizard cast a big spell to open a gate to the spirit world. In the final book, this scene will be a big production, lots of mumbo jumbo; I'll think of a little rhyme to chant or some weird dance and fill it with symbolic value. But, for now, in that chapter, I hit that scene, didn't want to get hung up on making up the specifics of the spell, and so wrote "Deceiver casts his spell." I then just moved on and wrote about the things that happened after that. I know know that the book is 22 chapters long; the final draft will clock in around 110,000 words. But, the chapters I've written for 19 to 22 are mostly outline, as I hammered out the big picture choreography of how all the subplots have to tie up in a series that makes sense and keeps the tension building up through the end of chapter 21.
This is how I finished up both Dragonseed and Dragonforge. Now that I've got the big choreography mapped out, I'll spend the next couple of months figuring out the fine details. The important thing is, I now know who my characters have to be at the end of the story in order to do the things that need to be done. This is the main information I need to go back to the beginning and start my rewrites. The first draft is about exploring who these characters are... every action they take deepens my understanding of them. My first draft starts with me writing about skeletons of characters, stick-men on a bare stage. As the chapters unfold, the characters gain substance and flesh and their personality emerges. They world they move around in slowly reveals itself as well. My second draft, I'm writing about fully fleshed out characters in a world where I know what people eat; I know about smells and temperatures and shades or light. Second drafts are where the story starts to resemble an actual published book.
I'll post here once I start rewrites. At some point this week, I'll also post an update on Capclave. I've got my schedule for it now. I know I get to talk about comic books on one panel, and Darwin on another. Woohoo!
Welcome to my worlds!
I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!