Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

77,000 Snakes

My vacation week has been splendid, though I haven’t been lolling about. Mostly I’ve been working on my Snake novel (which I’ll be able to tell you about soon, I think). This morning, around 10 am, I finished the first draft. The manuscript stands at 77,000 words, and 72,000 of those were written in the month of September. I was more diligent than I usually am, these past few weeks. There were only 8 days in September on which I didn’t write at all, and no more than two non-writing days in a row — much better than my usual pace. (For example, in both August and July, I only wrote on five days each month; for 26 days each of those months, I didn’t do a damn thing. Summer was exceptionally lazy for me this year, but I’d just finished Broken Mirrors, so I needed a break.)

Anyway, blah blah metrics. Wrote a lot, got a draft done. It’s 3,000 words short of the target length, but I know I need to add some setup and foreshadowing when I revise it, so it’ll get longer. I also need to put in some smells — it’s the sense I ignore most in my first drafts — and break up some long strings of pure dialogue with a little reinforcing/contrasting action to make it more interesting. Needs some more little character touches, too, for a few of the characters. I think the structure of the thing is pretty sound though, and the book’s not due until 11/1. A whole month to revise! How decadent!

Otherwise, I’ve been reading. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians is good, far better than I expected — I had the vague sense Grossman was sort of a fantasy genre outsider coming in to Show Us How It’s Done, and I was prepared to find it annoying, but I was wrong. I’m about 3/4 of the way through and I really love it. (I mean, the characters explicitly attempt to reproduce Dungeons & Dragons spells at one point. This is my kind of writer.) I’ve also been reading old comic book collections (The Age of Apocalypse, which was the only Big! Comics! Event! I halfway paid attention to in my teenage years, and which I think influenced me in obvious ways… see Broken Mirrors, for example.) Also been reading K.J. Parker’s The Fencer Trilogy (odd name, as the protagonist is only a fencer for the first part of book one) and enjoying it a lot, though it’s not as good as his later work. Full of great technical stuff about archery and bowmaking though, which was actually unexpectedly quite helpful, as a character in the Snake novel is an archer.

And in Life Stuff, I’ve been playing with my kid and enjoying my wife’s company, pretty much the usual. Heather and I went to the Wood Tavern for our 5th anniversary and had a truly divine meal. The cheeseboard alone was to die for. Nice to find time for a little romance outside the Land of a Three Year Old, where we usually dwell.

I go back to work on Monday, which means I still have a few days of vacation to enjoy without going flat-out on writing a novel. (I’m sure I’ll work some on other things; I’m still in a work mode, so I might as well use that. But I’ll read and watch TV and run around the yard with the boy more, too.) In the meantime –

Ooh, my agent just sent book contracts for me to sign. I’ll be able to tell you about this one soon, too, then.

One Response to “77,000 Snakes”

  1. Nenad Ristic Says:

    Thanks for that post! I especially appreciate the insight about how you handle writing a novel, and all the things that you already know you are going to have to do for the second draft.

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