This is part of my ongoing series where I’m documenting the development of my serial novel, Razor Mountain. Be forewarned, there are spoilers ahead! You can start from the beginning here.
I wrote part of the first pass at chapter one, and thought about the bits I want to write and polish before I start publishing chapters.
Real Life Intrudes
I’m still trying to come to grips with the new family schedule with the kids back in school. Unfortunately, the way it shakes out, I have to get up significantly earlier than during the summer. It follows, then, that I have to get to bed earlier. I haven’t been doing that very well, and as a result I feel approximately half-dead.
As you might expect, a state of partial undeath is not particularly conducive to good writing. Or any writing, frankly. I used to do the majority of my writing at night, after the kids went to bed. Now, it’s starting to look like most of my writing time and energy will be on the weekends.
All this to say that I had hoped to get through chapter two this week, and that didn’t happen. I made some progress, but once again I spent a lot of my time doing research.
When I was thinking about getting the first couple chapters done, I would have sworn that I started with two chapters from Christopher’s perspective. Turns out I actually have chapter one in Christopher’s point of view, and chapter two in God-Speaker’s point of view. As a result, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about indigenous Alaskan groups, in order to flesh out my stone-age Beringian tribe.
How Fast Can I Write, Actually?
Stephen King famously suggests that writers should write 1000 words per day. Is that first draft? Final? Does he do his editing on the side? I don’t know.
I’ve certainly gone through more than one November at NaNoWriMo speed (1667 words per day), and even had the occasional 3-5k day. Those aren’t sustainable rates for me. I did expect that a few thousand words per week would be fairly doable. I’m reevaluating that now.
My schedule is part of the problem. I also think things may go faster once I’m a bit further in. The biggest issue may be that this is going to be a serial story. I’m going to be publishing chapters as I go, so I really want to get them as polished as possible up-front. If I were writing a “normal” novel, I would write a rough draft of the entire book, then go back to revise and edit. Now, I’m going to have to combine the initial draft and at least some revision time together, up-front, which makes each chapter take longer than my rough-draft-words-per-minute rate might otherwise imply.
I also want to be able to publish frequently and regularly enough that readers will stay interested. Since I’m having a hard time getting through a chapter of rough draft per week, I can’t really plan to publish on that schedule. That might be okay though. My chapters are generally going to be 2,000–5,000 words, but many of these serial stories seem to be broken up into smaller chunks: around 1,000 words. I assume this is a natural evolution catering to small screens and short attention spans. I should probably embrace it. I don’t intend to chop the book into a hundred chapters, but I will look more seriously at chopping chapters into several smaller parts, and posting those either weekly, or more frequently when I am able.
I worked on writing the first draft of chapter two. I began to admit my own limits under my current schedule.