Zeroth Draft of The Straits of Galahesh is complete

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I'm posting this today, but I really finished it up last night. It wasn't really planned so exactly, but it's a nice bit of serendipity, timing this with the release day of Winds. What news would that be? That I'm more or less finished with the first draft of The Straits of Galahesh, Book 2 of the Lays of Anuskaya. I say more or less, because I haven't yet written the denouement. That'll only take about 1,000 or so words, and I can't finish it right now because the ending of the book is so much in flux.

Wait, what? You said you were done.

Yeah, I know. Let me see if I can explain that.

One of the things I try to do while I'm writing is "try things on for size." I'm a big proponent of what Orson Scott Card calls the idea net. While I'm wandering through my day, listening to NPR, talking with others, catching up on the Daily Show, while I'm writing; at all times I try to keep my mind open to the story ideas that come at us all the time. The mind is really good at filtering these things out. It's trained, through tens of thousands of years of evolution, to weed out what is unnecessary. By some estimates our brains take in something like 400 billion bits of information per second and focuses on only about 2,000 of those. That's a pretty efficient filter. It's difficult to train your mind to sense and then retain those things that are most interesting with respect to stories, but it can certainly be done.

As I write the zeroth draft, I try not to lock down on any ideas too tightly. I still allow new things to enter the creative process, even later in the book. And so, what I tend to find is that the story is still rather in flux at this point, especially the ending, which could have a number of possibilities. In other words, the clay is all on the table, and I'm about to begin working it for real at this point.

So while the denouement is not done, neither is the climax of the story. I really need to go back and start working the entire thing from the beginning and see which of the possibilities I have for the ending is going to work best.

I'm pretty much on time at this point, too. I started writing in June of last year and I set myself a goal of writing 20k words per month. That's what I've done to reach the 200k mark at this point. I'm planning on cutting a fair bit, maybe 20k words, but I also need to flesh out the story more in places, so I suspect it's going to end up somewhere between 190 and 200k.

I'm running a workshop in June of this year, the Wellspring Writing Workshop, which is based on the Blue Heaven workshop format. Finals mss are due roughly at the end of May, so that's my goal: to get this puppy in shape to turn in to the workshop, my beta readers, my agent, and my editor. I think it's doable. I'll probably always wish I had more time, but if I can average about a chapter edited per day, I think I'll be good.

Wish me luck!


  1. Paul Genesse

    April 2, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Good luck, Brad! Well done and I'm looking forward to reading it very much. Your dedication is awesome, 20K a month is very impressive.
    Best wishes,
    Paul Genesse

  2. Greg

    April 3, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Ditto to what Paul said…congratulations on finishing draft #0!

  3. Brad

    April 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Thanks, guys. It feels good, but also that I've only reached base camp 1. Onward!

  4. Paul (@princejvstin)

    April 4, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Luck!  and congratulations on the 0th draft of the second novel.
    How do you think this compares with the writing of The Winds of Khalakovo in terms of the challenge involved?

    • Brad

      April 4, 2011 at 9:49 am

      Thanks, Paul. I was actually talking about this with Pat Rothfuss the other day. That feels very name-droppey, but Greg and I just did an interview with him, and we were talking about the "muddle in the middle". It brought it up with respect to writing a single novel, but also as a way to talk to him about how the second book in a trilogy is similar to "the middle' of a novel. It's the part where you're expanding the possibilities that were presented in the beginning, but you're also removing some of those possibilities as you draw toward the end.

      So it's a bit of a bear, actually. And you're hamstrung a bit in terms of creativity because Book 1 is now gospel. You can't go back and change it. So those restrictions make it even tougher. I can see why Tolkien waited for 15 years to publish the entirety of The Lord of the Rings (not that he was under anywhere near the same constraints as the modern writer is).