Friday, February 6, 2009

Roberson's Report, Feb 6: 3,231 words

I was able to get a few hours writing in today, in amongst other things, but not quite as much as I'd have liked, thanks to Google Docs crapping out in the middle of the day. I've gone back to trusty old Microsoft Word, not ready to make the leap until they work out the bugs. (Is that thing ever going to move out of beta?)

Here's a sample of today's work, a chapter from an epic fantasy I'm working on (the same one featured in Monday's sample).
The galleon was a little more than a month from making landfall on the shores of Khend. After a journey of months since setting sail from the white cliffs of Albelund, the days remaining on the journey could be counted on the knuckles of a man’s two hands. The lion’s share of the distance was already behind them, with their destination almost within reach.

At least, that was what Pol Ravenstone continued to tell himself, as he gripped the salt-slicked rail and vomited the half-digested contents of his dinner down the side of the ship. Months at sail, and the sea-sickness had yet to abate. At this rate, it didn’t appear that it ever would.

He’d tried sleeping, but had found the strange dreams waiting for him again—heat and lightning, movement and pain. They seemed to come more often, as the trip wore on, and he hoped that he’d sleep soundly once he was back on solid ground. Waking on his narrow bunk in a cold sweat, he’d risen, dressed, gathered up his instruments, and returned to the deck, to while away the small hours of the night studying unfamiliar skies. He’d scarcely had time to measure the declination of the first star in the first constellation, though, when the nausea had overtaken him, and he had only narrowly avoided spraying the contents of his stomach all over the planking. He’d had a difficult enough time getting on with the ship’s crew as it was, and could ill afford to test their patience even further by requiring one of them to swab his sick from the deck.


Pol turned at the sound of the voice, trailing ropes of bile-laced spittle from his lips. He wiped his mouth on his doublet’s sleeve, nostrils stinging from the gastric juices which had forced their way out through his nasal passages. There were bits of food stuck in his neatly trimmed beard, but he hoped they wouldn’t be noticed.

“Commander mag Donnac,” Pol managed, voice straining for all that he tried to sound composed and casual. “Good evening.” Of
course it would be the gruff leader of the Highland Scouts who would come upon Pol in such a state of distress. He’d been the butt of the soldiers’ jokes ever since they’d first massed on the Albelund docks, and while Pol had yet to interact with their commander, he could only imagine how the Highlander must look upon him. Barely at the beginning of his third decade, short of stature with a slight build, a natural philosopher of all things in the company of courtiers and soldiers. Pol had no illusions about himself, and knew that hardly presented an imposing figure—especially not when half-covered with his own sick.


  1. rofl. I can't believe you posted this at 1:30pm and already had 3k words written!

  2. Well, to be fair, I *am* in CST, so it was 3:30 for me. And those 3K words took me the better part of four hours to do, which isn't all that fast. I usually write about 1K words for every hour I write, give or take a bit depending on the style I'm using. I was pretty lazy today, though, and took a thirty minute walk in the morning, took half an hour off for lunch, poked around on Facebook and Google Reader, etc. When I start the novel later this month I'll probably be a bit more diligent, and get more words out of the day. (I never work after 4PM, though.)

    Of course, Willingham has set such high expectations for how fast I supposedly write that I doubt I'll ever be able to avoid disappointing!

  3. :)

    Do you edit a lot or do you just go for it?


  4. I outline compulsively (which is the reason I've been turning up zero word counts for the last couple of days). Typically it's something like a 1 to 4 ratio, where the outline is a quarter as long, in terms of word count, as the finished story. I'll have mapped out what happens in every paragraph, often with first passes at dialogue and description, so what I end up with is somewhere between a sane person's outline and rough draft. I'm able to write fairly quickly when I *do* sit down to write because I don't have to think about what happens next, only how to put what happens next into the appropriate words.

  5. Okay, I claimed earlier that I had done a Roberson level outline for my project, in terms of complexity. Now I see that I didn't even come close.

  6. Well, the 1-to-4 ratio is only typical for my short stories. For novels it's considerably lower, probably closer to 1-to-8 or even 1-to-10. The total word count of END OF THE CENTURY, for example, is right at 169K words, and the outline ran to a hair over 18K for the whole thing. And lots of times I'll outline on the fly, beefing up the outline detail for upcoming chapters after doing the day's prose writing, having started with fairly skeletal outlines to begin with.