After a month of moderate progress and much distraction, I am officially in the final leg of Root of the First. The file size is under the goal of 600 pages, and there’s still more that’s pre-ordained for cutting. So not only will I reach my goal of getting it under 600 pages, I’ll beat it. Possibly by a fairly large margin.
It was a bit slower going than I had hoped. I was thinking I’d be at this point nearly a month ago. But on my most recent read-through, I realized just how much maudlin crap was weighing down the third quarter of the book. In some parts, it was clear that it took so long to write that I had just plain old forgot that I had just covered that same information 2 chapters earlier. Other parts, it seems like I didn’t think the audience got the point the first time I said something, and repeated it three more times in different chapters.
There’s an important lesson there, that related directly to the theme of the novel. When I was drafting it, I obviously didn’t think I had made the theme apparent by the actions of the characters, so I reinforced it with a lot of heavy, needless narrative and dialog. Part of me is glad it was there to be cut, since it helped remind me what the scenes were really about. And it also gave me plenty of room to cut without digging too deeply into the plot.
In this most recent revision, I decided to cut a character from the ending that used to be there. Originally, he reunited with the group. But now, I keep the group separated and end his story a little differently to set up for the sequel. I wrote the section in a fairly self-contained way, so that his entire “end plot” can be pushed off to book 2 if need be. It’s not exactly a cliffhanger either way, and it cleans up the plot a fair bit to keep it at the end of book 1, but exactly when it takes place chronologically is pretty negotiable. So if that gets cut, there’s at least another 60 pages.
The home stretch is going to be the hardest of all. While I have renewed enthusiasm, I also just got my hands on the Unity3D Iphone development license, so I need to focus a bit more time on that. I also need to almost completely rewrite the last hundred pages of the book from scratch. I rearranged the end plot so much that there’s not much salvageable text left. Sad but true, but I think the new stuff will be so much better that it’ll be more than worth it!