The answer to that is "A lot." While I haven't checked the page count lately, I can tell you this is the longest first draft I've ever written. Per my usual writing style the second draft came down quite a bit. I tend to write long. But I'm sure it's still longer than my other two completed books. So yeah, it's a wild ride and I'm excited about sharing it with my readers. Given that, what happens next is a loaded question, but bare with me and I'll post the next scene.
First let me tell you what I've learned working on this project. That's the important thing, because when it comes to developing a skill, you should always be learning something new. This project has shown me that not only are openings just as important as the swampy middle or the grand climax, they are hell to write. So much to accomplish in so few words. A writer has a tiny window in which to grab a reader's interest and if you don't take advantage of it then it doesn't matter how good the rest of the book is, no one will ever get that far.
This hasn't always been the case in literature. Books used to have endless prologues, introductions, and long opening scenes describing things like the color of autumn leaves or a gentle summer breeze. But these days, with fast food, high-speed internet, and On Demand TV, our attention spans are not much better than a tree squirrel's. And while I lament this age of constant stimulation, my firm belief in the natural progression of things and faith that all things are always as they are supposed to be, wins out over my urge to get on a soapbox and scream at people about their brains turning to oatmeal. This is the world we live in. I choose not to fight it, but to embrace it.
Now I realize some, if not all of you have probably skipped over the previous paragraphs in order to get to the following excerpt. That's okay. I don't blame you. I bore myself sometimes.
Here's scene two (If you haven't read scene one yet, please do so now):
A small window offered a rare glimpse of the world outside. Pierce stole glances through it while the monitors in the chapel displayed drones lowering his brother’s body into a cement box. Outside it didn’t matter where you looked, nothing had changed—white on white, like stink on shit, if both stink and shit were white. And while Pierce didn’t want to be here burying his brother, there was nowhere else he’d rather be.
“The mahogany casket’s a nice touch,” Remmy commented. “And that granite monument…top notch.”
“Yeah,” Pierce replied. “Just like everything else Bright Light makes; beautiful on the outside.”
As Paul’s interment progressed, he turned his attention back to the ceremony. Everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to get up and say something. Pierce contemplated the relationship he and Paul had and thought of his mother’s voice issuing instructions before they went out to play. "Take care of your little brother, Paul. Make sure Pierce doesn’t wander off, Paul." Now, for the first time in his life, he was the one that needed to step up and ensure his older brother was being taken care of.
As the drones completed their task, Pierce broke the silence and said his final goodbye. “So long brother, maybe now you won’t be so cold.”
He looked around the room at the eleven others in attendance comprised entirely of Section D’s pit crew. Paul’s crew, all sitting with heads bowed showing respect to their fallen leader. Again he got caught up staring out the window, this time wondering what Paul would have said about the view. Just two days ago they’d talked about the weather and together they checked the forecast out of morbid curiosity. That seemed like an eternity ago; before Paul’s death changed everything. Yet outside the window nothing had changed. It all looked just like it had the last time he’d seen the surface; a frozen wasteland that could slice you up and rip your guts out quicker than any wild animal; that is if any wild animals had survived.
Now it didn’t seem to matter if he ever left the Pit. The plans he and Paul had made to provide wilderness tours to those who’d survived the damn ice age would never see the light of day. They’d even talked about the t-shirts they would sell to their customers. T-shirts that read, “I Survived the Damn Ice Age.” They’d had a lot of fun thinking about all the people clamoring to be outside after living in a pod for so many years. It had been a great way to pass the time. Now time could go take a hike.