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.

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