The first week in May went pretty well. Although I did not achieve my goal of 122k, I still reached 121,000 words with 8,000 written this past week.
I also got over what felt like a pretty big hump in my story.
Over A Hump of Some Kind
You see, the final third of Manuscript: Alpha is a bit more… truncated than I would have preferred. I rushed through it. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and I sprinted my way to the end. This section is fast-paced, and it’s meant to be, but my readers all said it was a little too fast — that it should be balanced with the more methodical pacing of the rest of the story.
I agreed with them, but I didn’t want to add 20,000 words just to stretch the pacing. I had to make a decision.
During one portion of my story, my protagonists, Aston and Jaed, spend something like five days speeding down a river on a ship. This brought out quite a few interesting conversations between these two and with the other people on this ship.
Here’s the thing: there is no logical reason for them to have spent that much time on board this ship. Their real goal was to cross the river and continue on their way. Five days on a ship going in the wrong direction is a waste of time for my characters and my readers.
So I had to condense those scenes. I actually managed to do this without cutting any substantial content, and here’s how:
- This ship served as the setting for five scenes spread over more pages than I care to count. So I had to first decide which scenes were essential to them being on the ship. Which scenes simply would not work if they were anywhere but a ship?
- Then, I rewrote the essential ship scenes in such a way that they actually fit together. Again, these sections were split up over a couple of chapters, so it was like taking an existing puzzle, carving new shapes from the pieces, and fitting them into a smaller puzzle that paints the same picture.
- Now, I have a sequence of two sections on this ship in one chapter. That’s it. Condensed.
- The other scenes, which were not essential to the characters being on a ship, I can just filter into the progression of the story from this point.
This way, my overall word count of 180,000 stays roughly the same, but I am not wasting my characters’ or my readers’ time by spending too much of it in the wrong place. My characters can progress towards the rising action and climax, and the pacing can feel just a little more drawn out (as I intended).
That’s what I meant by getting over a kind of hump. I still have 60,000 words to go on Manuscript: Beta, but I feel like the path is clearer now that I’ve worked through this narrative issue.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say that I’m in the final stretch, because 60,000 words still feels like a lot. The next two weeks will really demonstrate how close I am to finishing this thing.
Writing Goal for 5/12: 135,000 words