Benjamin Rosenbaum

Comments on "Teeth Gritted, He Forces Himself to Post About the Novel-in-Progress"

Write the ending first. Then the only problem is that the middle keeps getting longer, Zeno's-Paradox-style.

Posted by David Moles at March 28, 2007 04:54 AM

Don't worry about length, really. 90K is also a very genre specific number. I don't run into writers outside of the genre worrying about these numbers, and I think it's a shame that writers in the genre feel compelled to reach for a number of words instead of just writing whatever length a piece should be. If it's an 80K novel you write, you can sell that too. There are lots of them out there. There are even lots of 70K novels out there. And not just YA novels, either. If it's good, people will hear about it and buy it.

If you're 18K into it, you've got a good start. Keep going. Don't look back. Just run with it like you would a short story. The only difference is you have to figure out how to pace yourself for a novel run. Short stories in an hour rush. Novels can be written in a rush too, but it's more like at least a few months (for very fast novel writers--obviously not me) to a year or two.

What works for me is this: you've probably heard of the page a day method, right? 365 days a year, one page a day and you've theoretically written a novel. Well I don't like to write everyday, so this doesn't work for me, but I do like to get about 7 to 10 pages a week written, which is the same or more than what you'd get if you did a page a day. So I usually write every other day at this point, and write anywhere from 3 to 5 pages in a sitting. It feels doable to me, quick but not rushed, and I get the same amount of pages done (or more) each year. So if you don't already have a pace established that you like, consider something like that.

I'm excited to read this. But from my experience, you'll hit another hard spot as you near the end and have to start drawing what you've set into motion to a close.

But yay! Book!

Posted by Christopher Barzak at March 28, 2007 01:21 PM

David, I wish you luck with your ending-first... I think that would drive me totally nuts. :-/

Chris, 90K was pulled out of a hat, just so I can run the numbers in my spreadsheet and have some sense of how I'm doing. It may insist on being longer or shorter, I dunno.

A rhythm would be a good thing to find. If I could get a few hundred words down four days a week I'd be happy.

Posted by Benjamin Rosenbaum at March 28, 2007 05:41 PM

I think one of the stories I'm planning just decided it wants to be a novel, not a short story.

My automatic response was, "But I don't write novels. I write short stories. So you can't possibly want to be a novel."

My story's response was pretty much just to sit there staring at me, daring me to try and figure out how fit it into a short story. I think this means I get to try writing a novel.

I'm afraid I can't offer any advice or assurances that it gets better, as I've never done this before, but I did want to thank you. Sitting in class today, thinking, "Oh, dear, this is alarming," at least I was able to comfort myself with, "Well, I'm not the only one, and if someone as awesome as Ben Rosenbaum is finding it frustrating then 'I'm not good enough yet' just doesn't seem like a very good excuse..."

Posted by Em Tersoff at March 29, 2007 02:58 PM

Really don't worry about it. I always feel that way at that point in a novel. Just keep going and keep throwing random shit into it. You don't even have to think about how it's going to tie together for another 50k words. Or maybe in the next draft. Anyway, I reckon you'll find the ways it links together as you go on. I never know where a book's going or what it's really about at the beginning, and you're still at the beginning.

Posted by Patrick Samphire at March 30, 2007 09:41 AM

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