Poking my head above ground

It’s about 10:00 a.m. as I start this post. I just finished the draft of HMS Lanternfish. It’s one hell-of-a-lot bigger than I wanted it to be, but it’s all good stuff.

This is where I start contemplating the old phrase, “Kill your darlings.” It’s an important concept in fiction. Today isn’t the day for that. Today is the day to savor the moment and not dive into something I’m not ready for.

One of the things that occurs to me right now is that every stop the ship made in this adventure involves something important. Every stop does something to advance the story in one way or another. If I start eliminating chapters, characters, or scenes, the story will lose something. If I eliminate some of the monsters and such, it will change the world Lanternfish is set in.

Honestly, in science fiction or fantasy, 120K word volumes are common enough. I didn’t hit that watermark, but I’m not far off.

Only a few of you will know what I’m talking about here, but you can get it from context. If I eliminate Fēngbào, the bringer of storms, or the Omcrom, the story will lose something. Besides, I have a cool Lisa Burton poster on order that involves Lisa vs the Omcrom.

The critique and editing phases always tend to reduce words to a degree, so the count will go down in a small way.

I might eliminate some characters, but who? There are some that were barely used in this volume, but will have a bigger role to play in the final book.

This is why I’m not doing it today. If I send a chapter per week to my crit group, it will take weeks for them to see the end. I have some specific work to do after that, then I always read from start to finish one more time. At this pace, I’ll be lucky to have it out by August.

Somewhere in there, I need to finish The Ballad of Mrs. Molony, too. That ought to clear my head for the Lanternfish read. My hope now is to have Lanternfish out in time that it doesn’t interfere with releasing Mrs. Molony for the Halloween season.

I need to be content today. Show a bit of patience, then turn my attention to the critiques I received over the weekend. I also have a submission to mark up for a partner. Back to the regular grind, tomorrow.

35 Comments

Filed under Writing

35 responses to “Poking my head above ground

  1. I was always told to let a document rest before making decisions on it. Working on Malony will help give you clarity. But I suspect you’re right and cutting any major sections or characters will cost you quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes a story turns out to be longer than we expected. If you chop away at it then you can weaken what remains. This is why I don’t like the term ‘kill your darlings’. Refining might be better because the other way sounds like tearing stuff out is always necessary. Personally, I think you should consider what works for the story and what doesn’t. If it ends up being a higher word count than you planned then I wouldn’t worry about. People won’t realize the length of an exciting, well-written book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on finishing the draft. That’s a whopping huge story! 🙂
    Give yourself some time away from it before deciding on any big changes. And, like you said, fantasy novels tend to be larger than most genre reads.I’m excited to think another Lanternfish will soon be setting sail!

    Liked by 1 person

    • She’s cleared the breakwater and that much closer to the open sea. You know my saying: A story should be as long as it needs to be. I’m going to stick with that, but after some time passes there could be some places to trim up.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lots of fantasy novels are long, Craig, so I think you can get away with it. A long book is fine as long as it is interesting and the story moves along. I read a lot of long books like all of Stephen King’s tombstones and a lot of classics like The Thorn Birds.

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  5. Oh, hooray for you!!! You finished it! That’s always a huge relief. And once you’re away from it for a while and get the critiques, you’ll be able to decide what to keep and if anything needs cut. And if it’s long…then it should be. I’m looking forward to more Lanternfish!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Time for a ten-second rose smell. Ready? sniff

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Congrats on finishing! That’s always a great feeling. Like Staci, I let something rest before I decide to cut anything. I’ll bet when you look it over, you’ll find very little to delete.

    I also tend to have a lot of characters in my books.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congrats on finishing! Like Staci, I’ve always heard that setting it aside for a while gives you more clarity and a fresh perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Personally, I never let the length of a book keep me from reading it. If it takes that long to tell a story well, so be it. Many of my favorite books are very long, indeed. (Brandon Sanderson comes to mine, with 1000+ page tomes, and I read every word of them.)

    I know it’s bucking some of the trends, but I figure it takes what it takes to do your story justice, and only you can be the judge of that. You’ll know when you get back to it what you can tweak or cut, and what needs to stay, no matter what.

    I’m still in awe of how many words you crank out at a time, and that you can work on multiple projects. I have not learned the trick of going back and forth between stories. I’m submerged so deep in a world, it’s hard to come up into the REAL one for little things like food and drink. You GO, Craig! You know what works for you, and I have got to read the first Lanternfish book so I’m ready by the time the 2nd one is.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on finishing Lanternfish! That’s fantastic, Craig 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Looks like you had a productive day.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Congratulations on finishing the draft.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. High five! You are so right to savor the moment.
    When you get started on revisions, if you still believe every main plot point and character is important, then perhaps look for some passages of world-building that are super cool, but don’t contribute to the actual story. I know that’s easy to say.
    Also tighten, tighten, tighten. You’ll be surprised how many words you can save.
    Finally, trust your muse. (Hi, Lorelei!)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Congratulations on finishing HMS Lanternfish! Yes, it is so hard to cut parts of a story. In fact, as you say, if they move the story forward, you won’t want to or else it would be lacking. So, yes, enjoy the contented feeling of finishing before the grueling work begins!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. D.L. Finn, Author

    I won’t mind a longer read at all for Lanternfish:)

    Liked by 1 person

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