So, LAHN, which I was hoping to get finished before Christmas and then I gave up on that? Finished the actual first draft this morning. I feel like it probably needs a fair bit of work, probably clarification of some points, not sure the relationships all develop believably, various concerns about the plot, but I am too close to it now to tell, so I’m done. I sent it to my brother and to my agent about one minute ago.
My brother is just supposed to go thumbs up or thumbs down for plot clarity, with comments about that, though if he has comments about other aspects of the manuscript, I’ll be interested. Caitlin will undoubtedly have comments about all kinds of things, especially pacing. I won’t be at all impatient to see those comments because I am hereby sick of this manuscript and don’t want to think about it again for a month. By then I’ll probably have acquired enough distance that I can see it better myself.
Largest word count during the creation of this draft: 142,000 words. Word count as of this morning: 118,000 words. Virtually all the cutting came out of the last quarter of the manuscript. I added stuff too, but obviously not nearly as much as I took out.
Glad it’s done! I would now take a serious break from writing, but I can hardly waste the remaining 2 weeks of Christmas Break. So next: I do want to finish this Ysidro novel by Barbara Hambly, but I will definitely be starting work on the 4th Black Dog novel, COPPER MOUNTAIN, tomorrow, if not today.
That will be easier now anyway because I tossed ideas around about the plot with my brother while he was here and now I have a pretty good idea of the stuff that will happen in the book vs the stuff that will wait and happen after the book, in novellas. It was hard for me to sort that out, so this was one of the rare moments when it helped me to talk about a novel before beginning to write it.
Important things that got settled:
a) Does the book open directly after SHADOW TWIN or has some time passed?
You can see how impossible it is to begin working on the manuscript without answering that crucial question. Now I know: it’s going to open immediately after the third book. This will almost certainly require me to work in some of the novellas from Short Stories III during the course of COPPER MOUNTAIN, so I will (almost certainly) have to include a time-has-passed moment or two in order to set those novellas into place. That will be different, since always in the other books, all the action has taken place during an intense few days.
b) How can I remove some characters from the action so I don’t have to include everyone? And, related
c) Who is going to get to play important roles during the main action in the 4th book?
The cast is enormous now and there’s no way to cut it down without imposing an enormous disaster on Dimilioc, which I don’t want to do. They’re supposed to be recovering from the first enormous disaster; I don’t want to destroy the house completely. At least, I don’t think I do.
For SHADOW TWIN, I left Ethan and that crowd in Vermont, as you recall, and set Justin and Keziah and their group over in Roswell with Justin’s grandmother. That let me trim the character list for the main story down to something approaching reasonable size.
For COPPER MOUNTAIN, I’ll have to do something of the same kind. I have an idea for getting Etienne and his people away from the main stage, and there are various other characters and groups of characters I think I might set at a distance as well. If your favorite secondary character(s) do not get to play an important role in the 4th novel, I can just about guarantee that they will get a starring role in the next set of novellas. I like all those secondary characters too, you know, so I will feel compelled to give them a story if they get scant attention in the novel.