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Roger E. Eichorn's Blog: Fantasy, Philosophy, and whatever else I feel like writing about
I’ve decided to record my progress as I work to finish a draft of Book 1: The Anarchy.
I begin with 23,321 words completed (first 4+ chapters). I’m aiming for the book to come in around 125k-150k (which probably means it’ll be 150k-175k), and I hope to have it done by the end of the year. Can I do it? Check back to find out!
Update (2016.09.18): Alas, the answer is no. I’m not going to finish the book by the end of the year. I’ve decided that I need to finish my dissertation first, this fall. So I’m putting the book aside until I have a complete draft of that other big, looming project, which should be in January. Then I’ll come back to Three Roses, ready to crank it out. Getting the dissertation done should, I hope, be a real load off my mind.
The numbers: from 7.11-9.12, I added 20,801 words to the ms., for a grand total of 44,122. I’ve completed Part 1 out of 5 parts and have begun on Part 2. Each part should be similar in length, so it’s looking like the book will come in around 200k words (rounding to 40k/part). So I have roughly 150k words left to write. That’s not quite where I wanted to be at this point, but Part 1 proved much more difficult to write than I had expected. The rest of the book should come more easily, now that I have a solid foundation to work off of.
I’ve spent much of the past several weeks on world-building. I was working off a foundation (of histories and maps) compiled about six years ago. Aspects of both have gradually changed over the years, but I’d not gone to the trouble of recording and consolidating the changes.
I’m particularly pleased with my new maps. (I still have two more to make: one of the Continent and the Big One, which covers an area 6k miles by 4k miles.) Also, it took me way too long, but I finally figured out how to post both the maps and my genealogy in a way that allows viewers to click on the smaller images inserted on the Pages in order to access the full-size images. You’d think this would be easy to do, but it’s stupidly confusing.
Long story short: The ground is firming up under my feet. I’m ready to fucking go…
(Originally appeared in 2002 here.)
A reviewer might wield any number of tools in the process of reducing your writing to Swiss cheese. Some critiques follow a predefined method; others are loose and free. Some discuss only broad narrative elements (the “Macro”), while others leave the Macro to others and focus on immediate grammatical or stylistic elements (the “Micro”).
Regardless of the manner in which your work has been reviewed, however, you should first run the review through a series of questions before you change your writing—a review of the review, so to speak. It’s especially important to ask yourself these questions when you’ve received a review of an isolated chapter of a much longer—and most likely uncompleted—work. Writing is, of course, an attempt to communicate, which is why following basic rules of grammar and punctuation is always advisable; if readers can’t understand what you mean, or if they have to consciously recast your sentences in their minds in order to follow your story, then it’s time you revisited the basics. But when Joe Q. Reviewer jumps in at Chapter 41 of your latest pseudo-medieval fantasy novel, he doesn’t know what occurred in the first forty chapters, he doesn’t know your characters or your world, and he doesn’t know where your story is heading. In all likelihood, he has little sense of you as an author. So when should you heed his advice, and when should you ignore it?
Sometimes good, solid advice will seem terrible at first blush; other times advice that won’t help at all—and may even hurt your writing—will seem spot on. My advice is that no matter how reasonable (or unreasonable) a reviewer’s suggestions may seem, always ask the following questions before either implementing or dismissing his or her suggestions (and these are good general questions to ask no matter what’s been reviewed, even a completed short story about to be sent to Asimov’s):
1) How much do I know about the reviewer?
a: Is the reviewer representative of my audience?
b: Do the reviewer and I share similar tastes?
2) Have I already given thought to the points the reviewer has raised?
a: Has the reviewer considered my intentions before criticizing my execution?
b: Is the reviewer attempting to hijack my story?
c: Is the reviewer pedantic?
3) I don’t agree with a reviewer, but am I just being stubborn?
Let’s explore these question further.