Thursday, February 14, 2013

A thousand words

Tonight I passed the 51,000 mark on my work-in-progress, the second Blue Plate Mystery. I have a new writing plan. On January 2nd, I sat down at my desk and told myself to begin the book. It didn't matter if I only wrote 500 words. I would begin. I wrote a thousand words that night--maybe a little less than four typewritten pages--and found it wasn't that hard. So that became my goal--a thousand words a night. I think I've missed two nights (haven't checked this against a calendar): one night when my kids and grandkids were in town and half of them were staying with me, and last Tuesday night when I wanted to watch the State of the Union address and the response. I loved the former, thought it substantive and clear, and laughed aloud over poor Senator Rubio and his great, all-consuming thirst--a plastic water bottle on TV? But I digress.
Someone asked me the other night when I write, did I write daily, etc. My previous answer has alwawys been no, I have no schedule. I write when I can. I found though that this haphazard approach meant there were long spells when I didn't work on the novel, and I began to lose the thread. I can in no way judge whether or not the new routine is making a better book or not. Once through the draft, I will send it to my favorite beta reader for a critique. But I do feel it's making me linger over scenes and bring them to life more, to delve deeper into my characters. My beta reader always says, "What's your hurry?" and reminds me of his writing professor at Rice who said you should be able to see every scene like a photograph--a goal I try to keep in mind. I have written almost all of this one at night--mornings are taken up with business, errands, grocery, doctors, email, the newspaper, and so on. It's been easier to discipline myself to write at night. Hmmm, wonder if you'd call me a full time wirter? I can't spend six hours at the computer--after two hours at the most, I begin to write drivel.
Most writers write long and then have to go back and cut. Standard advice is to "kill your darlings." You have to delete scenes that you think are really great but don't move the story along, sometimes even delete favorite characters. Once a group of us wrote a collaborative novel, Noah's Ride, and one chapter ended with a baby and three children in danger. The next chapter was to be written by a friend of mine, and I said, "Mary, don't you dare kill that baby." Her reply? "The baby will be all right, but pray for the other children." And by gosh, she killed them in a house fire.
I have no such problem. At 51,000 the end is in sight. I know what's going to happen, and I'm crossing my fingers I can make it to 60,000 words. I'll probably pick up two or three thousand more in rewriting and editing. The usual word count for a cozy is 70,000 but anywhere in the sixties is acceptable and that's where I'm setting my sights.
I've written my thouand for tonight, after dinner with a good friend. Now to read that book I'm reviewing. Not far enough into it yet to form an opinon.

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