Monday, November 30, 2015

Sit Finis Libri

Somewhere around 2:25 pm PST, I wrote the last word of the first draft of Roger and the Meteor Mass. My 2015 NaNovel came in at 93K+ words, but something didn't seem right.

You see, I assembled the draft from several working copies, including scenes I had written as working notes from my Kindle, flash-fiction pieces for Charli Mill's Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge, and chapter-by-chapter texts composed in WrittenKitten.

My novel was plotted and outlined before November 1st this year, and I calculated it would be complete at around 90K words, plus-or-minus 500. Definitely not plus 3000!

I took my validation text online to half-a-dozen different duplicate-text finders. Each found one or more duplicates where I had assembled parts into the mix more than once. After about a half-hour of editing, I resubmitted for validation, and the final total matched my expectation: 90,493 words.

Before I put my "manuscript" away on the thumb drive, here's a final excerpt from the initial scene-setting for the town of Meteor, featuring Roger's initial encounter with yet another Mass member:

    The window of the bookstore in downtown Meteor was Roger's first stop. He was surprised to see one of his favorite techno-thrillers featured in a stack of books labeled, "Great Summer Reading Selections." Maybe the stock inside wouldn't be as lame as he feared.
    He decided not to go in, though. He hadn't brought a bike lock, and despite the casual way they had left the car open earlier, he still wasn't sure it was safe to leave things unlocked in the new town. Instead, he walked along the shops, peering into the drugstore, and passing a sinister-looking metal door with a barred window at eye-level.
    He craned his head back to read the sign overhead: "Flater Beer & Eats" was wrapped around the picture of a foaming mug. A smaller sign on the door  had been amended with an extra "t" in the name: "Flatter Beer & Eats." The door seemed to be locked tight, and the windows on either side of it were opaque black squares mirroring the street behind him. 
    The next shop seemed to be a real estate office, based on the sun-bleached prints of property photos that covered the single window. An angled wall made a nook to shade the shop's glass door. Roger scanned the offerings on the inside of the glass. Here was a barn conversion touted as a "quaint family dwelling on large lot." In the corner was a tiny building, listed as "two bedroom, one bath, starter home." 
    Just above it, Roger saw a picture of the house they had just moved into. He read the description, curious to see how it was described. "Three bedrm, two and a half bath, full grg." Half-bath? Roger supposed that might be the guest bathroom next to his bedroom, even though it had a shower stall in it. Maybe they meant the second bathroom upstairs.
    The description continued: "Two story and cellar. Asking negot., see agent." So there was a cellar. Roger wondered where the entrance was. Maybe outside? The house they'd lived in when the Pierces were in Missouri had a storm-cellar with a door outside, but it had also had stairs that led down from inside the house. He resolved to check when he got home.
    He rolled on, ignoring shops offering infant clothing and picture frames, until he reached the end of the block. Past this point Meteor became residential again until the high school. Roger crossed carefully over the highway main street, and turned back toward the new house. 
    On this side of the road, a small movie theater anchored the block. On the far side was the cafe where they had eaten dinner the night before, but on the near corner was an intriguing shop called "Marv's Marvels." The windows were filled with video-game boxes. Roger recognized some of the games. Along the brick wall on the other side of the door was a bike rack of the kind Roger's Dad always called a "toaster rack." Peter Pierce had taught his son not to lock his bicycle to such flimsy structures, but to look for pipes, metal railings, and other substantial, solid substitutes.
    Marv's Marvels was apparently a popular place for the locals; three nice bikes were racked loose in the slots of the toaster, and one "beater" bike was locked to the curve of pipe at the end.
    As Roger tried to see inside the shop, a raucous crowd burst out through the door, pushing past him on the sidewalk to unrack their bikes. "Way to beat that high score, Darrell!" said one boy, slapping the largest kid on the back. "Yeah, Harb's the greatest!" shouted another. 
    The largest, Darrell Harb according to the praise-shouting crowd, lifted his bike out of the rack and whipped it around, knocking Roger's front wheel askew as he did so. "Watch it," he snarled at Roger. "Keep outta my way!"
    Two of the others backed their own bikes out of the rack, and the whole crowd crossed the highway, some riding, some walking or wheeling bikes. Roger watched them head toward the high school.
    He racked his own bike loosely, and opened the shop door to peek inside. He was unwilling to leave his ride untended, but hoped he could see enough from the doorway.
    A double bank of arcade games led away from the door, beeping and buzzing an invitation to drop quarters. All the way at the back of the space, Roger could see a glass counter with boxed product displayed in it. At the last machine, a young kid worked intently at the controls.
    The rail-thin clerk leaning across the counter was totally focused on this game, and said without looking away, "Come on in and close the door, kid! Yer lettin' in flies!" Roger closed the door, but stayed close, keeping his bike in the corner of his eye. 
    "Close! Oh, so close! Keep it up!" The clerk was encouraging the player. "You can beat that last score!"
    Without shifting his focus in the least, the boy said, "'Course I can. Harb is good, but I'm way better." With the last word, he beat out a quick series of moves, and was rewarded by a tinkle of sound from the game screen. 
    "High Score: 380,274" the clerk read triumphantly. "Did it, Mikey! You didn't even have to break a sweat!"
    "The day I can't do better than Darrell Harb, I'll eat my latest owl's nest." His tone was scornful. "But you better erase my score, or you'll never get any more of Harb's quarters."
    Roger thought the arcade showed promise, and the kid Mikey might be worthwhile to get to know, but he was still nervous about his unlocked bike, so he scooted back outside. If the size of Meteor was anything to go by, he'd meet up with Mikey again in the small town.

    On the other hand, Roger mused, that meant he'd be meeting the unpleasant Darrel Harb and his buddies again, too.

Word Count: 7538 Day 30 and 90493 Final Total