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!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Greatshadow 73201

Okay, so I didn't make the 75k mark. But, I did get to the end of chapter 17. While there's a bit of fuzziness to my end game outline, I think I've only got six more chapter to go. (There's no real fuzziness in my mind about what needs to happen to wrap this up, but I haven't figured out exactly how everything divides up into chapters.) I figure I'll be bringing the first draft to a close under 100k words. It will no doubt get bigger on the next draft.

The main reason I didn't get more than 3k words done is that I spent all week working on my Codex Halloween story. The first draft of it was 8,800 words! Yowza! A bit problematic, though, given that the word count limit for the contest is 7,500 words. I've spent a lot of time intensively rewriting to tighten it up.

I think that my rewriting approach to short stories and novels is very different. With short stories, as I go through, I'm looking at every detail and thinking, "Does this really need to be in here? Can I just get rid of this entirely?" A short story should be free of distractions and side trips. On the other hand, when I'm writing a novel, I frequently find myself asking, "Is there something more I can put in here? Can I add some new detail that's only tangentally connected to the story, but still makes my world come alive?"

For instance, in my dragon age novels, I spend a lot of words talking about food and diet. In Dragonforge, there's a scene where Graxen devours a catfish on the docks in Hampton. It really doesn't have anything to do with the story. You could take out every mention of food in all three books, and the plot wouldn't change a bit. But, I really think the food scenes help bring the books to life; they provide a sensual detail that connects the reader on a literal gut level with what's unfolding on the page.

In a short story, if I have someone eat, I try to make the most of the sensory experience. But, also, I'm only going to have them eat if it's helping move the story along. Every element has to be propelling the reader toward a single destination. In a 5000 word story, you want 5000 words of story. In a 100,000 word novel, you can probably have 90,000 words devoted to advancing the story, and another 10,000 spent on diversions, curiousities, and amusements that flavor the tale without much changing it.

I have yet another draft to go on the halloween story. But, next week, I have a 4 day weekend. Greatshadow will get my full attention then.

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