Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Whoa! I’ve been away a long time! I decided that the only way I was going to finish this novel was to put my nose to the grindstone so-to-speak and not look up. As a result, the first draft my novel is finally done! I finished the last chapter while my wife and I were visiting her parents on Long Island at the end of August. The novel is 172 thousand words -- roughly 500 paperback pages, which is about average for adventure novels by guys like Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, etc.

Since then, I've filled in some 50 remaining minor pieces of research, such as: what is the Japanese equivalent for a Fortune 500 company and what is the fastest human reaction time? .

This novel took longer than expected primarily because it required far more research than planned. This was because it takes place in so many countries and cities (and cultures), and also because it covers such a broad spectrum of human activity. I felt I needed to get the details right rather than just make it up. For example, few know that the White House Chief of Staff's office is not next to the Oval Office as portrayed in "The West Wing" TV series. That's artistic license and I have taken some as well, but I wanted to do so only when it was needed, not because I didn't know better!

The book ends in Geneva and I really wanted to go over there, but time did not permit. So, for Geneva and the Palais des Nations alone, I compiled nearly 200 items of research. These were maps, photos, delegate guides, documents and web sites, to give me the inside information I needed to write the action.

Altogether, my research folder for this book now totals 791 items covering everything from types of cheeses, records of previous Peace Summits, Arab slang, to web sites describing the principal terrorist organizations in the world.

I am currently making the first rough edit, following which I will send it out to certain trusted readers. I’m primarily interested in their take on the overall theme and structure, particularly on how well it holds their interest and whether anything is confusing. After I get that feedback, I will restructure it as needed, tighten it up where possible, and do a final polish!

By the way, in my last BLOG entry, I discussed the use of an Excel spreadsheet to outline and coordinate what was going on in different locations. This particular device became even more useful at the end of this novel where I had highly related activities occurring in four key locations (one in an entirely different time zone). I still found it important, as Steven King says, to 'discover' the details of the plot and action as I went along. So I used the outline (as laid out in the spreadsheet) only as a rough guide and revised it as needed to keep pace with the developing plot line. Nevertheless, it was a vital tool to coordinate the action and the timing of the action across different time zones.

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