Last Thursday, the Frankenstein's monster of a manuscript parts that is Dragonsgate, V1, was finally sewn together into something very closely resembling a novel.
I've written twenty six chapters, or roughly 120,000 words. I'm including in this count two versions of chapters ten and eleven, where the novel took a serious wrong track that led me to break my own rule about rewriting before a draft was done. My original plan had Graxen and Nadala meeting who I thought was going to be an important player in the plot, while Bitterwood and Anza encountered an earth-dragon named Delta who was also going to be a big character. I had to go back and switch things around so that Graxen and Nadala are the ones who first encounter Delta.
I'm aware, by the way, of just how boring it is to read about my changing my mind about characters that you don't know in a book no one has read. This is something I suspect all creatives struggle with. A painter of a vase of flowers will always be haunted by the fact that the person appreciating the painting will never understand hoe the flower he decided not to paint is what gives the canvas its beauty. The songwriter will never be able to explain how the song people are dancing to exists only because of the notes he decided not to play. Novelists will always see their books in the light of the characters and plots that could have been, or briefly were, before vanishing forever. Every book I've written emerges from a quantum froth of books I might have written, books that might have been better or worse.
A bit of trivia that I don't think I've shared before: In the first Bitterwood novel, for most of the first draft, there was a dragon named Belpantheron who was an explorer. He knew that the society of dragons was built upon several myths and was determined to get to the truth behind these myths. He was a useful frame for revealing the true story of how dragons had conquered mankind. I wrote several scenes with him, and he was a pretty good character, smart, courageous, and driven. And... poof! He's gone. His name got recycled into a literary work the dragons sometimes reference called The Ballad of Belpantheron. And, though it's been twenty years since I last wrote a scene featuring him, I still kind of feel like I let him down.
I've got a note file with a bunch of stuff I need to put into the next draft of Dragonsgate. Hex has several big scenes I need to write to give him a full character arc. Zeeky's story didn't really come together for me until around chapter fifteen, so pretty much every scene including her before then will need to be redone in the light of what I know now. She was a character with an established ability that I knew would be important to the plot. But that meant that for most of the book, I didn't know what to do with her until her gift became important later. I knew what she would do in the book, I just didn't know why she would do it. Now that I know, I think she'll have one of the more interesting storylines in the final novel.
For now, I'm putting the novel aside. I need to get a little distance from the book before I start a fresh draft. My goal is to work on Nobody Nowhere during April. After I'm done with that draft, I'll have a clearer picture of how ready I am to tackle Dragonsgate V2.
Completing Dragonsgate, plus a few blog posts, gave me 12,138 words for the week. At the end of week 13, one quarter into the year, my word count year to date is 132,496.