On finishing the first draft of Ignite
October 26th 2012
I am – finally – done. With the deadline starting to loom (early December) I did more-or-less nothing but write for two months. 72,500 words later and it’s finished.
I am officially well over my contracted maximum word count. I talked Orbit up from 200,000 to 250,000 when I signed on the dotted line. Ignite was a frightening 300,470 words long when I put in that last full stop. That’s an awful lot of words, vaguely organised into sentences, paragraphs, chapters and parts. At this end of it, I have absolutely no idea if it makes a coherent whole – which is one of the problems of never plotting anything out, but one of the freedoms too.
It’s taken about 18 months from first to last word. That’s a considerable length of time in anyone’s book (hah! See what I did there…), and I’ve lived with these people (‘characters’ makes them sound a bit, well, thin) for all that time. So I had a bit of a sniffle when I finished. It’s not like I won’t be going back over their lives, but what I won’t be doing is learning anything new of their stories – which carry on after the last page. For some of them, at least.
I ended up writing Ignite in four parts, giving each part a specific beginning, middle and end, so it’s almost a quartet of books. I have no idea at this stage what Orbit intend to do with it; they could reasonably split it into two 150,000 word volumes, or keep it as one. Fantasy is supposed to come in door-step sized slices, right?
Which is another thing. It’s not actually a fantasy. Or it is, but that’s not all it is. Or at least, that’s what it starts as, an almost traditional fantasy with kings and queens and wizards and monsters, and then it begins to change into something subtly other. Playing with the tropes is something I love, and I’ve genuinely enjoyed writing this because it’s given me a whole different set of playthings from the Metrozone books.
What happens next? I’ve a whole month (woo! Go me…) before I have to hand in the manuscripts, although as the result of a plaintive email from Orbit Towers a few weeks ago, I did send them parts 1,2, and 3 to read in all their first drafty goodness. I’ll be spending November trying to work out what the hell I’ve done – there’s an awful lot of editing to do on the macro scale, without considering the individual words and punctuation.
All the same, getting the first draft down feels good. Words. We have them.