Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The First Draft of "Battle for the Wastelands" Is Done

I took last Friday off in order to have a three-day weekend for writing, as was once suggested by my immediate superior at the Griffin Daily News.  I figured I'd just get a chapter or two done, and then I got ambitious.  I decided I was going to complete the first whole draft Battle for the Wastelands.

(I say "whole draft" because between my own tinkering and cycling it through writing groups, a lot of chapters, particularly the early ones, have changed a lot.)

Two chapters on Friday, two chapters on Saturday, and two chapters on Sunday.  The novel is now done, coming in at just over 102,000 words.

These last couple of days, I've left it alone.  I've heard suggestions to let a newly-completed manuscript "cool" for weeks, months, or even a year.  However, one of my writing groups has seen all but the last six incomplete chapters, so that really isn't an option.  The maximum word count is 10,000 words and the current word count for those last six is around 12,000.  I'm going to try to cut as much as possible without sacrificing action or character and if I can get it 10,000 or below, I'll bring it before the Lawrenceville group in one big block.  If not, two smaller blocks of three chapters each.  The entire manuscript will have been critiqued by them in either mid or late March, since the meetings are two weeks apart.

Once that's done and I make revisions based on group members' comments, I've got a few friends who have agreed to take a look at the entire package.  After they review it and I make further revisions, I'll bring it before the Kennesaw group as a whole package.  At this rate, that will probably be sometime over the summer.

My plan so far is to submit it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards when they open up again in early January.  If I'd rushed, I could have had it complete in time for this year's contest, but it would not be the best possible product.  Even if one is not the ultimate winner of the contest, one can still get a book deal out of it like my friend Alex Hughes, who was a semi-finalist, did.

However, DragonCon is a good place for networking and I did talk to a publisher last time that seemed interested in Battle.  "Placing" in ABNA is a good set of laurels to attach to a manuscript and worth waiting a few months for, but it's always good to have multiple options and the steampunk craze won't last forever.  Sometimes it's a good idea to strike while the iron is hot.

I'm told publishers prefer first-time writers' manuscripts be fewer than 100K words.  As far as people I know are concerned, James R. Tuck's Blood and Bullets is 81Kwords, while some unpublished novels from Matt Schafer are in the upper-80K to mid-90K range.

So that's my most recent productivity update.  I think my next projects will be to finish a new short story inverting TVTropes' "Doomed Home Town" trope for the next meeting of the Kennesaw group and work more on Escape from the Wastelands (the second book in the series).


  1. Congrats Matt! I can't wait to finally give this novel of yours a read!

  2. Congrats! That is wonderful news! I hope the editing process goes well and you can get cracking on the sequel :)

  3. The sequel is already partially written, since the first book originally covered a much longer span of time and distance.

    I ended up splitting it in half and expanding protagonist Andrew Sutter's interlude with the Merrill army to cover a couple of months and several battles instead of a couple of weeks and one.

    So now instead of having a first half partially written and a second half to write from scratch, I have to write a new beginning and middle to get to the ending.