I added 1,400 words to Shadow of the Black Tower on Sunday, bringing chapter ten to 2,700 and almost reaching 23,000 for the whole manuscript thus far. No, I haven’t gotten to the monster fight yet. ;-) I’ve had fun setting up a few things first that will play out during and enhance the encounter, but I probably stopped a few pages short of starting the action after a long writing day.
At this point, it’s likely I’ll end chapter ten on a cliffhanger note when I introduce the deadly danger. My chapters in Shadow have been averaging about 3,000 words, and the events of the monster fight could easily make ten double that. So I think breaking things up is the better pacing choice.
I’ve become uncertain of how many more words the manuscript needs to go until it’s finished. I was pretty sure that it was going to be a novelette or novella at the onset, but now that I’ve hit the 23,000 word mark and it feels like I’m in the “meddlesome middle” of a novel — a feeling I’m familiar with from writing my first one — I don’t know anymore.
I do know the key scenes I want to include from where I am currently to get to the end… but can I estimate a word count based off of that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Still, I’m doubtful the story could reach the vaunted 50,000 word minimum that typically defines a work as a novel. Yet, somewhere between forty and fifty thousand words wouldn’t surprise me. At least then I could technically call it a novel, albeit a short one… not that it really matters.
I love the style of a good novelette or novella, and have written more than a few. Traditionally, they were difficult to publish because the minimum cost of printing a book made works under a certain page count less profitable, and novella’s were found largely in collections and serialized in magazines as a result.
As I’m an indie writer working in an electronic publishing environment, that’s not an issue for me. I do believe that novels are easier to market, though. Having started Shadow assuming it would end up a novelette or novella early on, the biggest issue I have with it growing out of its planned size is how that has torpedoed my estimate on how much time it would take me to complete.
I had no intention of Shadow taking this long. I really want to get back to editing my first novel, Vivian’s Last Cigarette, but I’m sick of abandoning projects before completion, and I really think Shadow of the Black Tower is going to be a great story when it’s done, whatever its final length is. Therefore, I’m determined to finish my first draft of Shadow before returning to Viv’s.
My struggle with Shadow taking so much time has had a lot more to do with an extended chain of exterior life stuff — including some achievements that are very positive progress towards my author goals — and my personal growth, than with an ongoing struggle with the manuscript itself. Mostly, my situation has been one of simply not having enough time to write on it as much on it as I’d like to get it done quicker.
This week has been a typical of that, as my day job has been particularly tiring from a doubled workload while a coworker is on vacation. Add to that the reality of the upcoming weekend being my monthly social media setup, and normally I wouldn’t have any time to work on long fiction.
However, I’m taking a few vacation days and adding them to my Labor Day holiday weekend to get five days off next week… and over three of those I’ll be working on Shadow with a goal of adding four to five thousand words to it. :-)
Have a great week everyone, and keep writing!
~Jason H. Abbott.