Friday, November 11, 2016

How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

If it was up to me, as a writer, I'd be stuck in revisions, obsessing over perfecting my novel. So last year I came up with a plan to write two novels in a year. The writing plan forces me to move on when I'm spending too much time in one section. Each month attacks a different step for each novel.

An explanation follows below, with a concise list afterward. While I am working on one step of novel 1, I am at a completely different spot with the novel 2. It doesn't matter how I divide my month. I might work for a week straight on novel 1, or alternate days. If I spend the first half of my month on only one novel, mid month I switch it up.

This way I am never bored, or driving myself nuts if I am sick of something.

1. & 2. Snowflake and outlining. I give myself a solid month to plan my novel. And even though it's a solid month, I'm also working on revisions for my second novel. I divide my time between the two. If I become tired of outlining, I have something else to break up the monotony.
3. While my other novel is out with beta readers, I have a month to write 50,000 words for the novel I just outlined. My own NaNo.
4,5,6 & 7. This step is filling in the gaps that my rough draft left. I read through the draft and compare to my outline. I expand scenes. I analyze the scenes to make sure they accomplish their goals.
8. I hate saving revisions until last. So I start tackling revisions as I go along. Alternating with months of analyzing my draft. I have my own personal list of revisions that I check off as I go.
9. I go back and compare everything to my notes again and expand descriptions, and even add scenes.
10. More revisions. Focusing on misused words and poor grammar.
11. Steps 4-7 again.
12. Finally time for beta readers! I give them a whole month with a very polished copy. I would hate to have them tripping over obvious typos.
13. Finish revisions list and work on suggestions from beta readers. Beta readers suggestions can be overwhelming so I allow a month to allow time to stew.
14. It's so important to edit your novel backwards and even read it out loud. You will catch many mistakes.
15 & 16. This is the polishing. Sending to an editor. Type setting. You want to allow plenty of time for this if your editor doesn't have a fast turn around. My editor is usually done in two weeks, and I edit from her suggestions for about two weeks.
17. Publish. Allow a nice month to sit back and catch your breath. Implement promotion plan.


A Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance

1.     Snowflake
2.     Waypoints and Outline
3.     Rough draft
4.     Compare to outline and waypoints. Make adjustments.
5.     Read through while scanning for mistakes and content.
6.     Elaborate scene descriptions and emotions.
7.     Scene analysis
8.     Begin Revisions list
9.     Repeat steps 4-7
10.   Continue Revisions list
11.   Repeat 4-7
12.   Beta readers. Let the novel rest while working on the other one.
13.   Finish Revision list and Beta reader suggestions.
14.   Work through novel backward while editing. Read out loud.
15.   Send to editor. Edit. Type set
16.   Final read through. Proofreads. 
17.   Publish and Promote.

A chart to keep each month straight. Feel free to adjust the months based on what works for you. January and July are better NaNo months for me, so I built my calendar around those. The numbers correspond with the Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance.

Month
Book 1
Book 2
December
1 & 2
11
January
3
12
February
4, 5, 6 & 7
13
March
8
14
April
9
15 & 16
May
10
17
June
11
1 & 2
July
12
3
August
13
4, 5, 6 & 7
September
14
8
October
15 & 16 
9
November
17
10
  

 So how long does it take for me to write a novel? A year. Two novels in a year. This is working for 4 hours a day, five days a week.