I’ve just finished the first draft of Promises to Keep.
By which I mean, I have a continuous narrative, and it reaches its endpoint.
This is not the same as feeling that the story is complete. I have a few minor character arcs that need filling in still. I worry that the reader will forget about the characters in between the places where they appear. Or that they aren’t full enough. Or something. I also worry that the story doesn’t have a “point”, beyond entertainment value, and that bothers me. Why, I don’t know, but it does.
I have not done a read-through of the whole thing, yet. There is more than one kind of read-through, too. There are the text editor read-throughs, where you’re rearranging every other sentence. Then there are the hard copy or Kindle copy read-throughs, where you’ve hopefully rearranged the sentences to your satisfaction, and are now making sure that all of the scenes and storylines are arranged to your satisfaction.
I began to write this book on April 15. It is now July 26. That’s a writing time of… gosh, is it only three months and eleven days? It felt like at least twice as long as I spent writing Dark and Deep (two months, four days), but I guess it isn’t. Well that’s heartening I suppose.
In any case: I feel that I’ve spent so long writing this book that I’ve lost a sense of coherency from beginning to end, but then, as I reported in a previous blog post I also feel like it has cables. There are things that stretch from the beginning to the ending, and that is good.
I have an old-fashioned concept of what a novel should be. There should be a story arc, I believe. There should be principle characters who learn, grow, and change. There should be a central problem that is addressed and resolved. Let me expound, for my own benefit, on why Promises to Keep is a novel.
1. There is a large, central problem. I spent about a third of the novel building up to it, about a third facing it square-on, and about a third resolving it.
2. There is a smaller, secondary problem in the first third, to keep you occupied while the larger one is picking up steam.
3. There are four major characters, and all four change. Three of them grow. Two of them learn.
4. I have two major themes that are presented and explored in a variety of ways.
5. I have recurring symbolism that is tied to the Anglo-Norse storytelling tradition.
I also have minor character arcs, new characters, retiring characters, lush scenery, informative how-to, some action, some emotion, some sex, some magical realism, new settings, visits to old settings, and several landmines ready to be detonated in the next book. Oh, and I know what the major problem of the third book will be.
And now I’m going to let the text rest for a while. It needs to cure and ripen. Then I need to work it over and let it sit again. After that work over, I will maybe be ready to publish. Wish me luck.