Cylon Writing

The Cassandra Project Cover
Preliminary Cover
Like the Cylons I finally have a plan. The project I am working on which was originally titled “Mind Bleed” and was started in October/November 2014 for the NaNoWriMo is still not finished. I had too little time to plan and that fact has come back twice to bite me. The original November draft came to about 53k words. In my ‘deleted scenes’ folder I have another 20k. The current draft begun as the first rewrite. It is now titled “The Cassandra Project” and I am just shy of crossing the 100k mark. But I am labeling the current version as the second rewrite or third draft, because when I got to about the same mark as the original draft I got stuck again. Why? The ending. What I had in mind just didn’t make any sense. And I couldn’t find a way to get there.

During our last vacation, I finally managed to get a grasp on an ending that made sense. None of my previous attempts got beyond the wishful thinking state. The current ending has an outline, drama and I am currently fixing the plot to lead to that ending. Ever since I found this ending, the story has been developing more consistently, and I had less trouble to get from “A to B” without bending plot or characters beyond the breaking point. I am sure the current rewrite will lead to my first complete draft. I am now estimating that this first complete draft will have between 120k and 150k words, depending on how much I decide to throw out. So with all the rewriting going on I have written an estimated 150k to 170k words on this project.

Just to give an overview how much that is a quote from the Hugo Award website:

Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
Best Novella: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
Best Novelette: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
Best Short Story: Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.

A typical young adult novel will have between 50-70k – I read those in about 4-6 hours typically. An epic fantasy comes in around 400k. Many average length novels fall into the 150-200k size. My current 99k turns out to be about 225 pages of PDF.

Before I had an ending I kept thinking that it would be so much easier to drop the whole idea and start over with something fresh. After all, I should have had a complete 1st draft in November and now it’s 8 months later and I am still not there. But then – with some help – the ending came together and things started to make sense. The characters developed independent motivations and my protagonist found herself a goal other than “react to what happens to me”. With those new character developments I am finally able to get rid of quite a few of the “how do I get them there” far-fetched scenes that sucked so much that I frequently wanted to throw my laptop out the window.

Interestingly with all the changes to the plot I kept making, and the characters changing and re-inventing themselves, what remained the same throughout is the setting. It seems to be what I first developed and had the best grasp on.

For now the writing is flowing more smoothly than ever during this whole project (except for the marathon that was the NaNoWriMo of course).

By Yashima

Writer of code and stories