09 June 2012

The Fourth Novel is Finished - Another Landmark Day for Henry Innes

Yesterday afternoon, I finished the fourth novel of The Adventures of Henry Innes series.  This novel was a complete re-write and re-imagining of an earlier version called The Voyage of Trade's Increase.  I decided to break that rather long tale into two novels, one tentatively entitled Over the Line.  Its sequel has the working title Eye of the Storm. I will spend the rest of the summer writing this sequel, which will require much more extensive re-writing and re-imagining than Over the Line.  However, I have a feeling the work on Eye of the Storm will progress quickly once I have finalized the new plot outline.  I typically write one or two scenes a day, and right now it looks as if the sequel will have about seventeen chapters, or sixty-eight scenes - probably around 265 manuscript pages altogether. 

I should note that my manuscript pages are trimmed to the layout and font size of a typical published page; these are not 8.5 x 11 or A-4 pages, but rather 7 x 9 inch pages with one-inch margins and 12-point Times New Roman font.  Each page is about 385-420 words, depending on the amount of dialogue there is.  I like to write this way because it gives me some idea of how long a book might be once it's published.      

Over the Line - this final version, at any rate - only took a few months to write, but I had done extensive background research, and I had a lot of good material, from earlier versions, that I was able to rewrite and condense easily, or else import - almost without changes - into the present manuscript.  The extensive research I carried out last summer at the British Library, where I studied the shipping of the East India Trade, really helped me develop an authentic nautical "feel" for the story.  However, I also believe I struck the correct balance between drowning my readers in a storm of maritime jargon that only hard-core sailors would understand, and including just enough briny prose to make Over the Line a respectable sea story that a general audience can enjoy.  Even so, I think sailors also will enjoy the book, although it is not full of references to all sorts of obscure sails and ropes:  what it aims at - with respect to narrative - is a realistic (and informed) portrayal of what it was like to make a long ocean voyage aboard a late 18th century ship.  That said, probably about half of the scenes take place ashore, and I can promise all my future readers some unusual, rather exotic and interesting settings.  Like the other Henry Innes novels, however, this one is character-driven. 

As for the finished product, Over the Line ended up being 119,385 words long, or 311 pages (each approximately 385 words).  There are twenty chapters, each with four scenes.  The average chapter length is 15 and a half pages, and the average scene length is just under 4 pages.  As this manuscript was repeatedly and extensively edited while being written, it is actually in a very finished, polished state as it stands, and I would not be at all averse to letting a potential agent or publisher see it.  Needless to say, this all bodes well for The Adventures of Henry Innes, and I think it is a certainty, now, that Eye of the Storm will be finished, as well, by the end of the summer.

01 June 2012

A Summer of Writing....

Because I have a full-time job as a professor, most of my work on The Adventures of Henry Innes occurs during the summer and winter holidays, alongside my academic research and writing.  I also work on the novels during the school year, but for obvious reasons, the time I can devote to them when I am teaching is limited.  There are lessons to be planned, and stacks of grading to be done.  There is nothing like having an extended block of time in which you can write intensively.  Since I spent much of last summer engaged in research, I am looking forward to this summer.  The first three novels of the Henry Innes series - forming the King & Company trilogy - are now completed.  Steps have been taken to interest agents in representing the books.  But in the meantime, what am I doing?

Well, Henry's story is just beginning.  This summer, I am writing the two novels that comprise The Voyage of Trade's Increase.  The first of these novels, tentatively titled Over the Line, is almost completed.  I have three more chapters to write, and I anticipate finishing by mid-June.  That leaves the rest of the summer to write the second novel, which has the working title The Eye of the Storm, at least for now.  Both novels are the product of extensive research, drawing a great deal upon the work I was able to do at the British Library last summer.

My goal is to have five Henry Innes novels finished by the end of the summer.  This may seem odd, given that the series does not yet have a publisher, but there is a method to this madness.  Remember when the whole world sat around, waiting impatiently for J. K. Rowling to crank out the next Harry Potter book?  I don't want to put my readers (or my agent, once I have one) through that.  In academic life, we try to put several works "in the pipeline," because publishing takes time.  Since I have to fit my fiction writing around my academic work, it was always my intention to have at least three book manuscripts finished before taking the series to publication.  This way, as one manuscript goes through the process of becoming a book, one or two more will be waiting in the wings, and another will be in progress.  And if I need to take time to work on academic projects, I can do that without interrupting the flow of the series.

So, here's to a productive summer, with two new manuscripts - fully edited - to show for it before I have to plan classes for the fall term.