Sunday, December 1, 2013

First draft of The Labyrinth of Flame is finished!

Hope those of you in the US had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday (and those of you elsewhere had a lovely weekend too).  I sure did: partially because we just enjoyed an awesome few days in Utah's canyon country, but mostly because late one night in our Moab hotel room while my husband and son snored, I wrote the final scene of the first draft of The Labyrinth of Flame.  This after writing 56,345 words during November: hooray for NaNoWriMo, and all the encouragement and support I've gotten from fellow writers in the trenches!  I am so thrilled to have a complete draft of the book, I can't even tell you.  

Lest any readers get too eager, I must point out that this is a rough draft.  Very, very rough.  Way more rough than my first draft of The Tainted City was when I finished that one.  For The Tainted City, I worked in kind of a spiraling process, revising old chapters at the same time I was writing new ones.  I tried this initially with Labyrinth, but it didn't work; I kept getting sucked into the revision trap.  So instead, I went back to the method I used for The Whitefire Crossing: get the story down, worry about making it pretty later.  That worked, but oh man, the draft is very definitely not pretty.  It's a sprawling mess of a document, full of bracketed notes to myself and backtracking and horrible prose and basically I would never, EVER show it to anyone else, not even my closest friend.

But!  For all those caveats, the arc of the story is now solidly in place.  No more mistiness and uncertainty: I know the full sequence of events, and all the character motivations behind them.

The breathtaking span of Landscape Arch, revealed in the fog.
And now at last I get to do my favorite part of writing: revising.  I love taking the bare-bones idea of a scene, paring away all the mess of the first draft, and fleshing it out into something rich and tense and real.  They say the devil's in the details, but for me, that's where joy lies as well.

Canyon sandstone: from a distance, it looks smooth, but get close, and you see all kinds of fascinating, intricate details
I don't know how long this revision will take me; my best guess right now is 5-6 months.  I also don't know yet what'll happen when the book is finished for real: will it go through traditional publication, or will I release it myself?  Some parts of the future are still hidden in the fog.  But I promise the moment I have news about the book's release, I'll post it.  In the meantime, I'm rolling up my sleeves and launching gleefully into revision.




13 comments:

  1. Congrats on the milestone in the book's progress! :-D And Happy Turkey Day!

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    1. Thanks, Kendall! (Haha, and while no actual turkey was had, we did indeed have an excellent Turkey Day hiking and scrambling in Arches National Park. Gonna post some more pics later this week.)

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  2. Still..forward progress (even if a very rough draft). Congratulations!

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  3. HOORAY! As someone still lost in the canyon fog, I can certainly appreciate how you found your way through. And while contending with snoring, no less! :-)

    So yeah, very glad you got the arc/arch of your story complete. Now enjoy reworking and polishing up that sucker so I can enjoy it as well. : D

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    1. The snoring wasn't half so bad as the way my 4yo kept trying to bury his head in my ribs, despite the mountain of pillows I built between us in the bed. I swear I don't know how people who co-sleep with their kids get any actual sleep. :P

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  4. Congrats, great to hear it! Yeah, that revision trap is deadly! Looking forward to reading it down the road.

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  5. Huzzah! I'm glad to hear that the first draft is complete! Have fun with revisions... if that's possible. (I wonder if there's ever been a writer who hasn't torn out some hair in frustration when it comes to revising and editing...)

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    1. I will take revising over writing a first draft any day. (I don't know, maybe it's the engineer in me, but I LOVE revision, even when it's hard. Working out how to fix a problematic scene actually feels very similar to solving an algorithm problem; it uses the same sort of abstract reasoning, and produces the same deep satisfaction when you know you've got a good solution at last. Whereas when I write a first draft, I don't feel much satisfaction upon completing a scene, only frustration because it's so far short in quality of what I want it to be.

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  6. Hi, Courtney. This is terrific news. I am so looking forward to the conclusion. My husband, too. We've both enjoyed the series.

    Like you, I much prefer revision over the initial getting-the-words down. In my case, though, the writing and the rewriting is all one process. I do it as I go. This makes for slow progression but I think I need the extra time to figure the story out, since I write without an outline.

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