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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Writing, Again: Part VII - Overcoming Stumpings

I'm still here.

For whatever reason, on Book Five, I find that I've written in spurts.  Mentally, I have the whole thing planned.  On the screen, I outline several chapters (I type the chapter heading, followed by a brief description of what happens).  Then I write those chapters.  This gets me from one "part" of the book to the next.  Once I've written one "part," I find myself stumped.  I'm not sure why.

The first stumping was profound and I took quite a break.  Subsequent stumpings have been far briefer.  I just came off one.  It was the wrap-up of one section of the book before a time jump and the big goings-on pre-holocaust.  After a few days of nothing, I sat down and banged out the final twenty-plus chapters (in outlines, of course) over the weekend.  Now I have the full structure of the book in front of me.  I just have to fill in the blanks.

One thing I am worried about, though, is the length.  My personal target for Book Five was 120,000 words.  That's how long Book Three is.  I figure if I can keep it under that, I'll be doing well.  I've got 87,000 words so far.  I don't think I can keep it under 120,000.  Of course, there will be editing later and maybe even some serious pruning, so who knows?

Does the length bother you?  Seriously, I want to know.  Hopefully, the book is interesting and entertaining enough so you don't notice it, but I'd like to see how many of you would be put off by having a 130K, 140K, or 150K word book to read.

Let me know in the comments.

In the meantime, here's a piece from the book I enjoyed writing.  I hope you'll enjoy reading it:

On the banks of the Tiber River, east of the city, the commanders of the artillery looked to the trees on the opposite side.  The Gargano Forest was an ancient sanctuary, but it was a tactical detriment today.

"Do it," Magister Sivius said.

Seconds later, after generals spoke into their radios, explosions rippled behind the tree line.  Flames clung to trunks and reached the leaves.  Smoke poured into the sky and the vast crackling was only overshadowed by the sounds of breaking wood.

The trees glowed and ebbed a sickly orange.  The winds were kind and kept the smoke away from the assembled army.  Flames dotted the forest and kept it alight.

Just before dawn, the first shot was fired.  A commander near a large machine gun emplacement slumped over, dead.  The men ducked and looked around. 

"In the forest!" a centurion yelled.

Sivius and his tribunes raised their telescanners and saw blackened and ashen trees, still glowing red.  Some were on fire.  In that hot forest moved Cyclops.