104,227

Posted on September 18, 2009 (Subscribe to Blog)

I wrote the final words of Labyrinth of Fire last night. If I smoked I would have lit a ciggie, and if I had some champagne I would have popped the cork. Instead I watched The Office and ate a frozen strawberry popsicle.

104,227 is the total number of words (227 pages) in this first draft. This is longer than the previous book, but I have some editing and cutting to do so hopefully it will squeeze down to Island of Fog size, which is 95,000 words (218 pages).

I was a little surprised at how things turned out. I had a list of things to wrap up, and I did wrap them up, but in a different order to what I expected. Plus, a couple of extra things happened that I didn't expect. Funny how that happens! As with the first book, the ending resolves almost everything but points urgently to the next episode. This second book feels bigger in that there's more to see and learn – lots of places to visit, more people, more monsters... but the children also discover a number of new things about themselves and the world(s), some good and some not so good. The ending sets up what should be an even bigger third book to round off the trilogy.

The reason I overshot my "finish date" was not so much because of word count but because I didn't take into account how carefully one has to tread near the end. Loose ends to tie up, that sort of thing. And I had to do some thinking about what kind of ending I wanted. If you've seen the original Star Wars movies, you'll know that the first movie ends on a high, a complete story in itself. The second, The Empire Strikes Back, ends with the immediate plot points taken care of but a bigger one to deal with (ie, the rescue of Han Solo) thus leading into the third movie, Return of the Jedi. Likewise, the three Back to the Future movies did the same thing, and so did The Matrix, and so did Lord of the Rings... anyway, you get the picture. The theory is that if you've made it all the way to the end of the second story, then you're already committed to the third. So an "Uh-oh" ending in the second story is perfectly acceptable because you know that all will be fully resolved in the third.

Yes, you guessed it. Labyrinth of Fire ends with a huge "Uh-oh." I felt a bit like M. Night Shyamalan, director of The Sixth Sense, gleefully saying to himself "What a twist!" But I should add that I planned this ending way back before I started writing the prologue, and had vague ideas about it before I finished the previous book. The only difference is how it played out, which was never completely clear to me until last night.

The next few weeks will be editing, editing, and more editing.

Comment by LAURA CANNING on Friday, September 18, 2009...

Bloody hell, 100,000 words? And you don't even smoke and had no champagne - what are you, a masochist?

Only jesting of course - what a feat, am very impressed. Was telling a few mates recently about Island of Fog and saying perfectly truthfully it's one of the best children's books I've read. Even The Boy, who rarely reads, zipped through it in two evenings - I've never seen him so quiet! Can't wait til Labyrinth of Fire. What I think is best about Island of Fog is how dense the plot is and how there could be several sequels - looking forward to what comes next. Well done you - you put me to shame!

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Friday, September 18, 2009...

Aww, you're too kind, Laura! I just hope Labyrinth of Fire is as well received. *Gulp*

Yes, 100,000 words... one day I'll write something nice and short so I don't have to work so hard. Maybe book 3 could be just 40,000 words...

Comment by HEATHER on Friday, September 18, 2009...

That's OK, I'll have the champagne for you :-D

Congratulations! Can't wait to read it!

Comment by BRIAN B. on Friday, September 18, 2009...

Good job! I, being from Ireland, would not be able to suppress the inclination to open a good bottle of wine.

Comment by ALICIA on Saturday, September 19, 2009...

Wow...104,227 sodding words... and I find writing a decent 500-word-essay hard :o. I can't wait to read Labyrinth of Fire =]. I'm sure it'll be amazing. And maybe it'll be the next Twilight someday. Just a lot better.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Saturday, September 19, 2009...

Wine is on the shopping list, will be acquired and consumed tonight. :-)

A 500-word essay, Alicia? Crumbs, I remember those!! But now I have verbal diarrhea and I can't help waffling on and on and on and on and on...

Comment by ALICIA on Sunday, September 20, 2009...

Yeah. They suck =[...I think the teachers are barmy to make us write those awfully boring things about the Tudors and Shakespeare and other topics that could put an insomniac to sleep. Verbal diarrhoea xD?

Comment by KATHY on Sunday, September 20, 2009...

What an exciting book... certainly not just for young adults... I can't put it down! Great story line, Keith. I can't wait to read "Labyrinth of Fire". Boy... would this make a great movie!!! Keep up the great writing!

Comment by HELEN on Wednesday, September 23, 2009...

Really looking forward to it Keith! Am about to reread Island of Fog a little more slowly - take maybe 2 days instead of one! Waiting for my daughter's opinion. She's reading between feeds.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Wednesday, September 23, 2009...

Ta muchly Kathy! And Helen, I assume you mean your daughter's reading between RSS feeds, not mealtimes. :-)

Comment by KATHY on Thursday, September 24, 2009...

Just finished Island of Fog!! I hate it when a book ends!!!! Do I really have to wait until November to read Labyrinth of Fire?? The story line really held your interest all thru the book..how can I bribe you to let me read your second book early? Anxiously awaiting...

Comment by MING on Friday, September 25, 2009...

Great to hear of the update on Labyrinth of Fire! Can't wait for it. :-D

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