I know I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit the past few weeks, but I’ve been racing through the final chapters of Kikimora‘s second draft, and couldn’t bring myself to break off for any other writing commitments.
And this morning, at nine a.m. I’m done. It’s only taken two and a half years to reach this point.
There is of course much still to do. I have added so much new material during the second draft that a lot of it is still actually first draft, if you see what I mean. It will need smoothing over with a third draft before it’s ready for some beta readers, but hopefully the remaining changes should be minimal.
Also, I’m still hoping to cut a significant amount of material. The manuscript is currently 124,000 words! That’s 13,000 longer than Darklands, and that was a bit longer than I really wanted it to be. I had always thought that Kikimora would be quite a brief and simple story, but it grew, and it grew, and it grew…
There is certainly a lot less plot than Darklands, but the prose is a little more expansive. I have been writing stories all my life, and I recognised some time ago that the greatest failing of my early work (as with many beginner writers) was a tendency to prosiness. A foray into attempted screen-writing many years ago helped me develop a more stripped back writing style, and I have endeavoured to hold on to that although I gave up on the screen-writing idea.
With Darklands I was very wary of falling into the prosy waffle trap, and I edited it mercilessly, keeping the chapters short and the action coming.*
Having gained a little confidence through my experience of writing and selling Darklands, I have allowed the prose of Kikimora to be a little more free-range – just a little. Also, it is in many ways a smaller story, concerned with character and relationships, rather than ‘we have to save the world!’ The convincing development of those relationships needs space and time to grow.
In On Writing, Stephen King says, “2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%”. I’m aiming to lose at least 12,000 words on the third draft of Kikimora. And although I’m itching to get to it, it is saturday morning, and the sun is shining (for once!), and I think I deserve a little break before launching into the next stage. Also, I’m sure there’s a family around here somewhere that I sometimes like to spend time with…
* If you have only read the prologue of Darklands you might wonder at my judgement on this matter. As it happens, yes, the prologue is deliberately slow and descriptive, building to one awful revelation. But the tone of the rest of the book is much punchier.