Forty-three thousand words and counting

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Progress on Between the Lion and the Wolf (BLW) feels like it’s going more slowly than in the past, but if I stop and think about it, I’m pretty sure I sat on two chapters of Beneath the Vault of Stars (BVS) for almost a year before moving forward with that, so maybe I’m not as bad off as it seems!

I’m probably eighty-ish percent through with Chapter V, and already I’m at 43,000 words! A “novel” is 40,000, and, if things progress like this, BLW will contain almost four novels’ worth of words! (Granted, nowadays a 40,000-word novel would come across more like a novella, but hey.) I’ll have to edit everything, of course, once it’s all written. Sometimes I have a bad habit of editing in the middle of things, which has ground progress to a halt in the past (see my prior comment about BVS). More than once, however, that in-the-middle-of-things editing has been necessary to redirect the flow of events or ensure consistent characterization that would have far-reaching effects if left alone. And of course, I can always change it all back. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I probably wrote three or four chapters for BVS that ended up as discarded bits in a digital landfill before thinking “Got it!” with the story’s canonical first pages.

I’m trying to be careful not to cram a couple metric tons of words into things just because it’s fun: I’m trying to tell the story as it needs to be told, to include as much detail as necessary to best convey these characters’ lives and environment and the consequences of their actions (and inactions). To a lesser degree than those destroyed chapters, there have been numerous times when I’ve had to step back, re-read a few lines (or paragraphs, or sections, etc.) and just plain gut ’em. Even when I know it’s what the story needs, I sometimes find it difficult to…prune. I have to think of it like this old “blanky” I used to carry around. Mom had washed it and washed it and washed it, but it was old and falling apart—I think I was carting around just the hem toward the end! Tossing the whole thing out was the right choice: without one hand stuffed full of disintegrating white goods (blue, actually), I had two hands to explore my ever-expanding environment! All right, that’s a weird analogy, but it’ll have to suffice!

There’s still a lot to write, a lot of story to tell, and as vast as BLW is getting, I’m curious to see where it ends and where Book III, Above the Circle of the Earth, begins. I have an idea that I’ve left myself more than enough unraveled threads to tie together in that final volume! First thing’s first, though.

Roughly 120,000 words to go!1

  1. Give or take a couple thousand words!

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