Tasmakat Update: Let’s Not Use the Word “Momentum” just yet

Okay, so, I did take ten days or so, starting the WorldCon weekend, to cut rather than move forward. I actually enjoyed that — few hard decisions about cutting huge sections; it was almost all cutting at the sentence and occasionally paragraph level. Plus, I got to revisit the parts of the story I wrote really fast and barely remember. Occasionally I was literally saying to myself, “Oh, look at this! I remember this!” That’s kind of fun.

There are parts that are probably still too slow. On the other hand, some important foreshadowing takes place in those scenes. That’s why they’re in there in the first place. Dealing with that is most likely going to be annoying and difficult, but hey! It’s a job for later, not for now, so I don’t care.

I cut almost exactly 30,000 words, which is to say, about 100 pages, which was my goal. That makes the length of the in-progress manuscript seem insane, but not ABSOLUTELY insane, so I’m more comfortable moving forward. I’m hoping I can finish this book within another 300 pages (that’s 90,000 words, and YES, I am completely aware that that is the total length of many novels, there’s no need to point that out.) If I hope for 300 pages, I bet it’s more. But, well, whatever, I decline to worry about that now.

So, I finished cutting this past Saturday. I also paused and estimated that if I can manage 3000 words every Saturday and Sunday and 2000 words every workday, then I might about get this manuscript finished by the end of October. Yes, the Gen Bio class is definitely in the way. Definitely. But working out that calculation immediately made me feel better. That daily goal strikes me as (a) challenging, but (b) also reassuringly within reach. It makes me feel that this project is under control. I don’t have to hit that deadline, there’s not that kind of stress, but seeing “the end of October” pop out of this kind of calculation makes me feel that probably I’ll be typing THE END at least in November somewhere, not next January or anything dire like that.

Also, I wrote 5000 words on Sunday. And I know exactly what I’m doing next, which is even better! I don’t want to declare that I’ve recovered forward momentum, but I hope I have. Ryo had an intense conversation with Soretes that sorted out certain extremely important things and set up the next scenes. We haven’t left Avaras yet, but it’s now clear we’re going to be heading south almost at once.

I honestly thought Geras would be going with Aras and Ryo into the country of sand. It’s just now become clear that he won’t. He’s come all this way, for excellent and important reasons, but I’m sending him off in a different direction in the very next scene. I’m almost sure that’s what’s going to happen. It makes sense to do that, and, major perk, it cuts the character list down for the last third of the book. The middle third of the novel was quite difficult because of the immense character list. If I eventually do a major cut out of that portion of the book, I’ll probably lose some characters, and I know for certain that various readers would find that disappointing. Regardless, whittling down the character list will help simplify things for almost the entire rest of the story. Going into the country of fire: Aras, Ryo, Tasmakat, and just one other person. I almost typed that character’s name. I forget you all don’t know what’s happened so far, but I think I had better not include that name in this post, as that might constitute at least a minor spoiler.

Anyway: tonight, Ryo will have a couple more conversations, not as intense, and then I will most likely write the entire journey to the country of fire in about two paragraphs. Then he and Aras and the others will cross the bridge and head south. They have a distinct goal in mind. I’m not sure when that goal will get utterly derailed, but probably pretty soon. Probably not this coming chapter, but probably the one after that. I’m chuckling as I imagine reader reactions to the moment that happens. I’m going to get a real kick out of dropping that revelation on you all. I don’t think anybody will see it coming, although I’ve foreshadowed it.

It’s tempting to hint about it further, but I am heroically resisting the urge.

So: things are looking pretty good!

AND I have finally graded the five-page basic chemistry worksheets I created and assigned for students to do while I was gone last Thursday. I hope they didn’t find it as intensely boring to do that assignment as I did to grade it, because ugh, that was truly stultifyingly boring. A couple of them blew that off, but most of them did a decent job and some a quite good job. Overall, I’m quite pleased. I can see I need to go over a couple of terms, including what is meant by “valance electrons” if I want them to understand that. I’m a little uncertain about whether to bother. This isn’t Intro to Chemistry. In that class, the concept is really important. In General Bio, now that we’re out of the chemistry chapter, we aren’t going to mention that again.

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5 thoughts on “Tasmakat Update: Let’s Not Use the Word “Momentum” just yet”

  1. If I remember from my freshman chem class many years ago, valence electrons make an interesting curtain around an atom, hiding away the boring and ugly bits further inside.

    Glad to hear things are more or less under control.

  2. While I love a tightly plotted novel, I enjoy character development even more. Maybe that’s not right- Ryo and Aras don’t need more character development but I love their displays of charisma, heroism and competence. I would read many, many words for this.

  3. I’m always confused by word count to page count conversions. Is it generally 300 words / page? Here I was estimating 500.

    Stultifying! I like that.

  4. Of course words per page depends on font and spacing. I prefer Times New Roman 12-font double spacing, and that means something close-ish to 300 words per page. If you’re single spacing, that’d put words per page in the neighborhood of 500 words per page, which is where that number came from, I expect.

    Let me just check. Okay, a page with lots of description and no dialogue: 335 words. A page with some dialogue: 312 words. A page with a lot of dialogue: 264 words. I’d say that yes, 300 words per page is a decent estimate, so really, single spaced, probably closer to 600 words — at least in TNR 12.

    Alison, you’re my ideal reader! I think you’ll see plenty of charisma, heroism, and competence.

    Pete, I hesitate to describe atoms in quite those terms, as inviting students to find the subject boring may not be a great strategy. But I’m enjoying thinking of the boring and ugly bits of the atom inside the curtain of electrons.

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