The first round of A Round of Words in 80 Days for 2013 has begun, and will run till 28 March. This is a perfect time to make some new goals, as I’m closing in on the end of Part I of my current WIP, my third Russian historical saga. (At least half of it takes place outside the Soviet Union, but I still call it my third Russian novel since about 99% of the characters are Russians, and the first book did after all begin in Russia.)
Right now, I’m up to almost 142,000 words, and would like to cap Part I in at under 160,000 words. During Round 1, I’d like to start and complete Part II, which will take place during 1937-39 and involve lots of dramatic, suspenseful events, both on the personal and historical stage. I already have lots of new great ideas for how certain events in Part II will unfold, and can’t wait to get there. I’m also raring to get to Part III so I can write the love story for younger characters Yuriy (born 1919) and Inga (born 1924), a match I just recently thought of and am very excited and pleased by.
My guesstimate for the third book is 450,000, though I could see it going up to 500,000 at the rate it’s going. Writing a long, sweeping, complex saga with many characters, a wide story arc, and many storylines is second nature to me after a lifetime of reading thick, juicy historical novels that spanned many years, like The Winds of War, War and Remembrance, Trinity, Exodus, Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber, “…And Ladies of the Club,” The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, and The Source.
I definitely understand why, say, a contemporary YA or a police procedural works best at 300 pages or so, but you can’t really do most historicals justice under 500 pages at bare minimum, in my experience. It’s against my nature to get into the modern-day word counting obsession. As I’ve rhetorically asked many a time, do these modern-day word count police really think one of the above-named classic historical novels would’ve worked better with hundreds of pages and important characters hacked out, or split up into a pretended series, the plot divided up piecemeal?
Having the right soundtrack to write to can make all the difference in the world. Just like when I was writing my Russian novel sequel from June-November 2011, I am once again primarily listening to the band so nice they named themselves twice. When you find the music that makes your creative juices flow and serves as a security blanket, you just know. With Little Ragdoll, that musical security blanket was The Hollies (and sometimes The Four Seasons, for obvious reasons).
Part II is going to end on 2 May 1939, the 18th anniversary of the primary characters’ arrival in America and the wedding of Tatyana and Nikolay. I’m probably going to get as choked up as Ivan and Lyuba when little Tatyana, whom I’ve been with since she was born, takes that step into adult life! During the next rounds this year, I’m hoping to complete Parts III and IV, and the Epilogue.