I Am The One Percent

Before that title gets all you ninety-nine percenters riled up and ready to Occupy Furie, allow me to explain. It is estimated that less than one percent of people who start to write a book ever finish it. Today I joined those people.

My first complete draft of Wildwood had 91,534 words. I was happy with it and counted it an achievement. I thought that the book could easily be published in the form it was in then, but I knew enough to take some time off and come back to look at it later on. A couple of months went by and I read it again, noting so many flaws that it would have been quite simple to throw the book out and start all over again. As it is I removed one major subplot that ran for a good 32,000 words and then started restructuring what was left so that it made more sense.

Scenes were expanded and more detail was added to the world. Sometimes I’d go into the next chapter and continue a scene from a different point of view, rather than keep it all together. Sometimes I’d go back on myself, allowing for a little more foreshadowing of events throughout. As I’d already spent some time figuring out the entire story I wanted to tell (which will be told through this book and two others) I was able to spin more details into the narrative than had existed before, and I focussed on characters who had little page time before.

Once the rewrite was complete I gave it to Kim to read, telling her to note down things that didn’t make sense or any problems she found with it. She found some problems, mostly with tense, and a few structural problems that were addressed. Chapter by chapter, she found problems and I fixed them. Step by step, my final draft approached a publishable form. And today, that form was complete at 121,161 words.

Well, there is still the spell-checking edit to go through, and some parts may get slightly changed to fully match the story I want to tell in other books, but the book is done beyond that. No more rewrites, no more wondering if I’m wasting my time trying this, no more second guessing myself about whether I’ll finish or not.

I am the one percent and Wildwood is finished.

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14 thoughts on “I Am The One Percent

  1. Well, welcome to the club. Next level is the publishing. Of course, publishing is not as big an issue nowadays as it was when I finished my first book when I was sixteen back in the Dark Ages. Well, truth is I didn’t try to get it published since it was for a competition that a big Danish publishing house held. I didn’t win, but my book was on the top 200 of the 800 contestants, so… Anyway, congratulations. It is quite an achievement.

    • Publishing won’t be an issue for me until the series is complete, and I may stockpile a few little things until that moment to go alongside it for a staggered release. I want the entire series to be at this point before I even think about publishing. Having said that, if I want to hold the fruits of my labours, there are vanity presses that do single run hardbacks for about the price of a regular hardback book these days. Whether I give in to temptation or wait until fully published is a question only time will answer.

      The next level for me is taking what I’ve learned this past year and a half, and turning that into a routine. I know the power of outlining first now, and how it shows up problems and weak points in the story early on. I also know not to rigidly stick to an outline, and to allow the story to go off on its own for a while if needs be. I know that I can easily get lost in editing and can boost a chapter by hundreds of words in the process, so blasting the story out in one go then moving on to editing is a better process for me than editing as I go along (which I’m more used to).

      For now I’m celebrating achieving one of my lifes dreams with a chinese and a freshly uncorked bottle of special reserve. Not the entire bottle, mind. Just a glass to toast myself with.

      • That’s how it is. In my experience. You can edit from here on till you stop breathing, and still think there’s more editing to do. When finishing the actual writing you think you’ve got it made, but it is as if the story keeps growing and developing, sort of evolving, even though you actually have told it, and the final dot has been put down. I experienced that on a daily basis when I was a journalist. Most newspapers bring stories and articles that are only half-way finished, because there’s only so much you can do in a day’s work, and mostly it’s somebody else, employed entirely to do that job, who does the final editing – to make your story fit into the newspaper. The job gets done, but how well it is… On the other hand, a newspaper journalist mostly get payed for what he does, so it is possible to regard it as ‘just a job’. Writing fiction, however… You just have to put your foot down at a certain point and tell yourself, that’s it. No more editing. Job done. Paragraph.

        • Saying it’s done is something I’m pretty good at. This book is structurally done now, and the only edits left are those little spelling mistakes and typos. I may add a few hints of events in future books to certain sequences, but that would only be to change what is already there in that role if the ideas I have evolve.

      • Then again, this book being the first (or at least the first written) in a series enables you to use all the ideas your work spawned in the next volumes. If it had been just this one book, you would have been sitting there, right now, with this feeling of having to dispose of a lot of good ideas. That can be really frustrating, especially if the story you’ve written is so special that none of the ideas can be used in other contexts without changing them radically. I experienced that with many of the short stories I’ve written over the years, and I still have some of those ideas stored in my biological harddrive. Some of them I have used in later pieces, but there are some that aren’t suitable for other concepts than the one used in that particular story. Deciding on writing a series changes this. Well, I would think it does. I’ve never tried writing a series.

        • One good thing about this is that it originated as an idea about video games and then spiralled out of control. This means that some parts of the basic idea are constrained by their need to fit within a video game structure. This is true more of the setting than the story itself. As such, the big ideas mostly come out of the story while the setting provides some unique ideas but constrained a little to fit another media form. I feel like I could easily tell stories in this world for a while, and the rules can evolve from where they are as they need to.

          As one of the themes I’m exploring is that change is a constant, I feel it’s only fitting that the accepted normality should be open to change, or at least what is perceived as normal in this world should be. In fact, the contrast between one of my ideas fit for video games and the way I’d do it in writing has become a plot point for the next book in this outlining stage. For a while it was going nowhere and I thought I’d end up not writing it or cutting it to a background piece, but an idea a few nights ago made it suddenly a major part of the story.

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