On Novel Writing
Regular AnimeNation podcast listeners may be aware that I’m slowly composing an original “Japanese light novel-style” fiction novel. While I’ve had the rough story concept in my mind since 1996, I diligently started writing the book on July 18. Now, a month-and-a-half later, I’m still some distance away from the end of my first draft, but the conclusion is on the horizon. I’ve been sending periodic updates on my progress to a couple of penpals. Just occurred to me that I could also share these updates with AnimeNation blog readers.
Did a little more writing this evening. Wrote four pages which I feel neither pride nor embarrassment in. Inevitably I’ll make some limited concessions to padding length, although I won’t compromise my vision of the story just for the sake of reaching an arbitrary word count. The encounter between characters I wrote tonight was not on my original narrative outline, but it’s a meeting which I started considering depicting when I got near to it. Then, after I discovered that I should be concerned about word count, I became even more inclined to include it rather than have it occur “off screen” as I’d originally intended. The final encouragement for me was the epiphany that actually writing out the scene would allow me to give some characterization to two cameo characters. These aren’t characters who are in the story for very long, nor do they have a big impact on the narrative, but giving them some additional personality isn’t a bad or worthless effort. Even with extra scenes like this, I still can’t fathom how I could possibly extend my current 35,000 words to an arbitrary 100,000, nor am I planning to even try to.
Interesting. A Google search has assured me that a typical Japanese light novel, which I’ve used as a model for my own work-in-progress book, averages 50,000 words. That’s probably very reasonable for me, as I anticipate hitting 40,000 to 45,000 words before going back and adding in at least two additional character development scenes and doing a re-read and revision. I’m now quite certain that I’ll need to do quite a bit of significant revision as just skimming over select pages has recently caused me to realize that I sometimes do a bit too much narrating, rather than letting the scene blossom on its own, and I sometimes focus too exclusively on the protagonist, giving short shrift to the other characters in the scene. However, since I’m currently at 35,000 words and haven’t yet finished the first draft, a total word count of 50,000 now seems a lot more viable and reasonable to me.