New Serfdom — Wrapping up the First Draft

I’ve been contemplating a wrap-up post, but new ideas for the novel continue to swirl around in my head, taking up my “writing tracks.” As usual, the first draft of The New Serfdom is very different from my original conception and, now that 50,000 words is safely in the bag, it’s clear that a lot of sorting, digging and delving, and jelling needs to go on before I really know what kind of novel I have.

What I can say is that the dystopian framework has increasingly given way to the evolving relationship of the two protagonists: Nolan Graves and Gil Saltor. Much of the story, and much of what we know about Nolan, is seen through Gil’s eyes. As the story progresses, we see that their relationship is far more complex than it appears at first. What brings it fully to Gil’s awareness is the violent events that take place over the year or so of the main story.

Stylistically, the novel has edged away from science fiction and moved closer to literary fiction. At the same time, the critical events, both in the present and the past of the protagonists, could take place only in a dystopian setting. The second draft will concentrate on strengthening the dystopian framework slightly, adding some background for credibility, and on delving deeper into Nolan and Gil’s emotional lives. What makes it interesting to work out is realizing that while their roles in the hold (final term for the barony) will remain wha they’ve been, their psychological roles will go through a complete reversal. That’s a brand-new, surprising development, and something I couldn’t have dealt with in 30 days, even if I’d been more into NaNo than I was this year.


4 thoughts on “New Serfdom — Wrapping up the First Draft

    1. Hey, you big-time winner! You really tore up the keyboard. I hope that course (workshop?) you’re taking helps boot a book into publication.

      I’m still making notes on the novel (desperately seeking a title), but am going to try to back away for a while. I do plan to put up a page with some excerpts. Next week, sometime?

  1. Hi Catana, funny, but I’m exactly at 50K words of the 1st draft of the novel I’m currently writing (a sequel to the one I hope to put out next year). I am aiming for 80K as I have 2 major threads to deal with as well as a couple of minors. As usual, at this stage, I don’t feel I have very much control over the ultimate tone of the novel, though I do have the theme and the story lines pretty firmly in my head – I’m hoping it won’t be too heavy.
    It’s that willingness to work in this way, without any of the insurances that having a detailed storyboard can give, that feels scary at times, but it’s also rewarding, I think – I hope, for both of us.
    Best to you,

    1. Scary is becoming my middle name. I start every novel, thinking I know what it’s going to be about and, with increasing frequency, it doesn’t work out that way. I’m a slow learner, so it’s taken me a while to figure out that a tentative outline (even if I never work out the whole thing) is helpful only in getting me off to a good start. I’ve usually gone off on some tangent even before I get to the end of the outline.

      And then there’s that instinctive insistence I’ve always had (even in school) that you can’t outline something until it’s been written. That seems to be what I’m returning to, But a very loose outline that lets me see if if the timeline is working out properly and whether I’ve left any major plot holes. And then . . . it’s possible that I’m going to write every single novel differently, and the only commonality will be that I don’t really know what the heck I’m doing.

      So you’re aiming for 80K and I’m aiming for no more than 60k for this baby. Let’s see how we both come out.

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