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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Getting Back Into Novel-Writing

Tomorrow, a couple of days earlier than scheduled, I'm embarking on a big new project - my first new novel in four years. I've set myself the goal of writing it in three months, for a total of around 90,000 words, which comes down to 30,000 words per month and 1,000 per day.

I'm feeling a certain amount of trepidation with this, as it'll be my fourth novel (more if you count the ones I started but never finished), and the first I attempt to write in such a short time. Those other books all ended up being trunk novels, although I'm reusing some characters and settings from the very first one, The Golden Circle, which I started writing in the fall of 2001, when I was fresh out of college, newly living in London and aiming to write my own answer to the Lord of the Rings.

This book won't be another attempt at that rather lofty goal, of course. In fact, I'm going for something a little easier and breezier, more swords and sorcery than epic fantasy. I'm also thinking of having it be the first in a wider series, but I haven't spent much time thinking about the next books, as I'd really like to get through this one first.

Another reason for my trepidation is the above-mentioned goal. I've never written a draft of a book that quickly, but I recently read Stephen King's On Writing, and he recommended banging them out as fast as you can, so that you can't second-guess yourself or spend too much time waffling on. It sounds like fun, to be honest, and I've scheduled all my other writing projects in such a way that for April, May and June I should (hopefully) be able to concentrate on it alone.

The other thing I'm trying out with this book is a slightly new approach to plotting. I've spoken here before about story structure, particularly the three-act structure favored by Hollywood films, and this book represents a lot of what I have hopefully learned from books like Syd Field's Screenplay and Blake Snyder's Save the Cat. I'm not following the structure slavishly, but I'm at least giving it a backbone, to try and hold everything together. So far, so good.

I've even written an 8-page treatment, of sorts, similar to the 20-page outlines I've been doing for the movie ideas I've come up with. It isn't even broken up into chapters or sections, as I usually do, in favor of trying to get everything down and then worrying about the rest when I start on the edits.

It's fair to ask if I'm going to meet that deadline I've set for myself, of 90,000 words on June 30th, but it's probably not that important in the grand scheme of things. I will, of course, set aside an hour a day to crank out my thousand words, and hopefully this goal hanging over me will keep me focused when I'd rather be watching superhero cartoons on Netflix. But I'm letting myself off the hook if once or twice I miss a weekly word count or something like that (I'm trying to balance this writing business in with work, dating and fitness too, you know).

As far as working on other stuff, I expect I'll find some time for some vague plotting and odds and ends, as well as blogging, of course. But I don't plan on cranking out any movie treatments or anything too sizable until July at the earliest.

Wish me luck!