Nose to the Grindstone

In the “where are we now?” category, the book is, as of today, at 16,000 words (still short fiction of the novelette  or novella type)  and 83 manuscript pages.   The good news is that story is flowing.  It’s going nonlinear in the “threaded plot” sense, as Aunt Grace, Rector of Defense, has just gotten home to find her place booby-trapped, while Ky, at dinner in another location, is about to be unpleasantly interrupted by the persons who rang the doorbell there, and a character from Cold Welcome has taken on a new identity.

A healthy book, at this point, should be accreting material–characters, plot hooks that will link to other plot bits later, details  that will form a consistent background.  Some of the accretion will be plot drivers (or at least attachment points) and some won’t, and it’s impossible to know at this stage.  But it should begin to have both momentum (like impulsion in horses–the desire to go forward) and a sort of gravitational field that draws in “story stuff.”  When a book doesn’t do that, it may not be destined to be a book, so the first 100 pages really matter even if they’re later discarded for a different beginning.   A healthy book “wants to be written.”

It has acquired a good, strong, new character who immediately produced abundant backstory that connects well with the others this character needs to work with.   It’s good to have new characters entering a multi-volume story.  (Where do new characters come from?   Memories, of course, with a mashup of people the writer’s known, but also from chance meetings, when you’ve been thinking “I need a character with this sort of look, this sort of personality” and you walk into a school or store or airport and there they are, right in front of you.  The person you see is remade for the story, of course–this character will be most like the real person in appearance, least like him on the inside–but the real person was tickling my writer sense when I first saw him, and now he’s part of the story.)

The first fifty pages felt good; it’s still feeling good.  A hundred pages is a safety marker…when my books die on the vine (and several have!) they do so earlier.  Usually between 30 and 50 pages, more rarely between 50 and 100.   So on I go, happier with each day’s work that doesn’t totally suck.  (The suckage days will come later–they’re in the mix somewhere, every book but the first, and more in SF than in fantasy.)

I’ll be really happy at the 300 page mark, but it’s unwise to think hard about that until I’m closer to it.   Best practice for right now is to show up for work, start typing, and let the story out a little more slowly than it could be pushed, as the well is filling back up.

Cross-posted to Paksworld blog

4 thoughts on “Nose to the Grindstone

    1. So far she’s helpful, but I have concerns about her husband. Grace, as we’ve been told before, has some decidedly shady incidents in her past, that resulted her spending time in an asylum. Did the husband’s family know her back then?

      More is definitely due to come out about that, as it’s motivation for some persons. Not least Grace herself.

  1. Oh…although it’s way too early for snippets from *this* story, there are snippets of a different story up at, a story about a kid who is (at the beginning) on the road to being a serial troublemaker and a disgrace to his family and his people, but who is adopted by an unusual mentor. Well, unusual to him, anyway. Three of those are now on the site. For the record, it is not a sappy story about a kid falling in love a magical horse. Well, OK, there IS a magical horse in there but it’s not the usual magical horse. Never mind. It’s the story of a kid who grows up to be a character in the Paks story-verse. He’s a long way from grown, right now.

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