I finished the first draft of UTOPIA yesterday. The fifteenth book I’ve finished a complete draft of. For those of you playing along at home, here are the fifteen in order:
- Into the Elevator (A parallel worlds fantasy)
- Blood Countess (A fantasy in medieval Slovakia, centered around Countess Bathory)
- Weaver of Dreams (Another parallel world fantasy, where we all have counterpart lives we see in our dreams)
- Cavern of Babel (Alpaca fantasy at its finest)
- Adventures of Barboy (Medieval zombie fantasy)
- Vodnik (Contemporary fantasy based on Slovak fairytales)
- Ichabod (A murder mystery literally set inside a copy of Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow)
- Pawn of the Dead (Contemporary zombie fantasy)
- Tarnhelm (Fantasy noir)
- Get Cupid (Contemporary heist fantasy)
- The Memory Thief (Inside Out meets Something Wicked This Way Comes)
- Our Lady of Questionable Morals (Contemporary heist fantasy)
- The Book Binder’s Curse (Another stab at a book set within a copy of a book, this one being Peter Pan)
- Magic at 30,000 Feet (Hunger Games meet Harry Potter. On a plane)
- Utopia (My version of a sci-fi dystopia)
In between those, I’ve started significant chunks of 7 other books, but I didn’t stick with them long enough to finish the draft. They were set aside for a variety of reasons. The idea might have felt good to me at first, but it fizzled soon after, or it proved to be too much idea for me to handle, or the writing just didn’t flow like I hoped it would. You get a feeling for what’s working and what isn’t, after a while. Or at least I seem to.
UTOPIA went quite well, though I’d like to note that I feel that way about almost all of my books after writing them. This one is a fairly big departure from my earlier voice styles, and it made a significant impact on the story. Interestingly (to me), I still wasn’t exactly sure where it was going to end up (where I’d be able to write “THE END” right up to the last 2,000 words or so. Usually I know a long time in advance where the end is going to land me, but not this time.
Which is one of the reasons I’m not sending it off to my agents right away. I need to step away from the book for a bit and get my bearings, then read it through with fresh eyes to see if it did what I wanted it to. (In the meantime, I’ll hand it off to TRC this evening. He’s becoming a great resource for me. He’s much better read when it comes to current Young Adult books, for one thing. And he can read something so quickly that I can get feedback the next day, usually. He’s been asking repeatedly when I’d finish, since I let him read it halfway through.)
Actually, I suppose this draft is more like draft 1.5, since I already went back and tweaked the first 40,000 words a few months ago. I made significant changes back then, so hopefully this is already a fair bit closer to what I was shooting for than it would have been without that. I will say that this time I felt especially good at the end of writing. Like I’d done something significant. It was a stretch for me, this voice, and I’m glad I went for it. I enjoyed the process, and I hope the final product turned out well. It clocked in at 86,969 words. (For reference, VODNIK is around 105,000, as I recall, and MEMORY THIEF is closer to 50,000.)
I don’t write to a specific word length. I write a story. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s over when it’s over.
Anyway. Time for me to turn my attention to my revision of MAGIC AT 30,000 FEET. Eddie got back to me with some big level revisions, and I have to think those things through to see where I’m going to go with them. Always writing . . .
Thanks for reading!