December 12, 2003
I discovered today that there are exactly 90 scenes in the first draft of The Exile's Daughter. I've been going through and essentially outlining the draft, one notecard per scene, forcing myself to break everything down and look at it piece by piece. Useful? Hell yes. Fun? Not so much.
I thought I was about two thirds through, since I finished card #44 today, and reached the end of Part 2 (of 3). Then I went through and made up a card for each remaining scene. Weirdly, Part 3 has as many scenes as Parts 1 and 2 put together, despite being a little over one third of the book. I'm not sure what that means, although I'm telling myself it means that the pace picks up in the final third, which is a good thing.
I'm at a slightly frustrating stage of this process. It's getting close to the time when I need to make some firm decisions on where I want to go with various aspects of the book (mostly timeline and worldbuilding issues), and these are decisions I've been avoiding all along. The more I do this, the more I realize how incredibly skeletal this draft is. I'm fully expecting draft #2 to be at least a third longer, if not more.
I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that I'm so conscious of "The Process" while I'm doing this. I keep thinking I'm doing something wrong, or that I did things wrong in the first draft--when I didn't, not really. The first draft felt complete to me at the time, but now I understand that it was really almost an extended outline of sorts, a story draft. I got the plot down, some of the characterization, some of the emotion, but my main focus was the plot. Now I can go back in and layer the rest of the novel in.
I think it's shaking my perception of myself as a writer, because I never saw myself as the type of writer who did that. With my short stories, at least, the first drafts are flawed, but complete. This is not really 'complete' (yes,
A wise person told me not too long ago, "You already did the fun part, now you start the actual work." Sadly, it's true.