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How quickly can I write Repulsive?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by BWFoster78, Jul 13, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Though I want to continue to improve the quality of both my technique and my storytelling, I'm focusing right now on improving my quantity of work. By November 1, both my debut novel, Rise of the Mages, and a novella, Abuse of Power, will be up on Amazon (exclusive or wide release - haven't decided). My plan is to take a break from that series for my second novel.

    Enter Repulsive, a novel in the superhero genre.

    Some thoughts on the genre:

    - It's not nearly as crowded as epic fantasy, but it seems to have a decent following. Looks like a category ripe for entry.
    - The books in the genre lend themselves to the stories I like to tell.
    - Books in the genre are a lot shorter than epic fantasy. I'm shooting for 65k for Repulsive whereas Rise weighs in at 120k.

    So from not a single word published, how quickly can I get to hitting Publish on Amazon? I'm shooting for aggressive but realistic, meaning that the schedule requires daily butt in seat but doesn't require an unattainable work product for each day.

    First thing, I'm going to abandon my pantsing ways and try outlining. The timeline below assumes a completed outline from the start.

    - Start of production: November 2, 2015
    - Rough draft: 10 weeks. 45 chapters (I write short chapters), 3 passes per chapter (expanding the outlined beats into an actual scene, making the scene readable, and final pass to smooth it out). That equates to 2 passes per day. That's the minimum I'm doing now. Probably averaging 2.5 to 3 at the moment.
    - Content Edit: 4 weeks. The goal is to step away from the project for an entire month. Not even think about it until the editor finishes.
    - 2nd draft: 7 weeks. Same number of chapters, but only 2 passes per.
    - Beta Readers: 2 weeks.
    - 3rd draft: 4 weeks. 2 passes per chapter but 3 passes per day average. Picking up beta reader comments are usually a lot more straightforward than content editor comments.
    - Copy Edit: 1 week. I insist that the editor provide me with the edits as she works on them. That way, I can start my work with only a short lag.
    - Final Draft: 3 weeks. I can pick up copy edit changes at a rate of 2 chapters per day.
    - Proofreading: 1 week.

    If all goes well, I can hit publish on May 23, 2016. That seems like too long, but the timeline includes 7 weeks of pure downtime. If I'm using those weeks efficiently, that's a big jump on getting started on Griffin (Gryphon?).

    Any thoughts on ways to improve efficiency? I'll keep everyone posted as to if I'm able to hold to this schedule.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    ohh boy, you're really ambitious. I write a novel in a few months in rough draft, but editing takes me a lot longer. I think it's great you have a plan and a structure thought. Best wishes as you venture forth and set your mind to an incredible task. My only advice would be to change your goals if something hits the fan even a little. My real life is often bumpy though ( I mentioned i'm bipolar) and so I can't keep to a schedule for those episodes where I'm barely functioning. I think you've got a great plan, but please don't be hard on yourself if it all doesn't work out perfectly. We're all human and just knowing you're on the right track needs to be good enough for me sometimes.
     
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  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    CM,

    I'm treating it as an experiment. If I succeed, why? If I fail, why?

    I'll share the results here.

    I just got finished reading Chris Fox's book 5000 WPH. Maybe I'm overestimating the time this is going to take :)

    Two questions I'm considering:

    1. When is the optimum time to send it in for a content edit?

    On one hand, the less time I spend on it before the edit, the better. After all, no step in the process is more likely to result in major rewrites than the content edit. Could I just get an edit on my outline? Do people do that?

    On the other hand, the better developed the writing is, the more the editor can comment on tension and character. And I'm more concerned with those things than with structure, especially since I'm following a more rigid outline structure for this book.

    2. When is the best time to do the beta reading phase?

    Currently, I'm showing it when I almost have a finished product. That doesn't allow me much leeway to incorporate major changes to the character and story without killing my schedule with an overall rewrite. The alternative is to do it prior to content editing, but, again, you've got that risk of major change thing happening.

    Thanks.

    Brian

    EDIT: Did my first micro sprint - 15 minutes of heavy editing (2nd draft, which is my hardest editing pass) at a rate of almost 1500 Words Per Hour. The goal is to eventually get that up to at least 5000 WPH for the second draft and 7500-10000 for the third.

    EDIT AGAIN: 3rd pass edit for a different chapter - 15 minutes sprint yielded 3700 WPH. This is kinda fun :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    wow that's great time! Yeah, I'm super slow in editing, over-thinking every little thing. I know I do it, but stopping has proved difficult. I'm interested in hearing your progress as you go.
     
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  5. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Brian, I was just about to recommend Chris Fox's book to you, but you're ahead of me. :) The micro-sprints are a great idea. The part where he loses me, though, is where he says: don't edit, just write! Nope, can't do that. Editing as I go is how I get clean first drafts that need very little tweaking in the editing phase. That works for me.

    For interest, my writing schedule to get one book from first line to publication looks like this:

    Writing: 5-7 months
    Brewing: 2-3 months
    Critting: 1-2 months
    Editing: 1 month
    Beta readers: 1 month
    Final edit/proofreading: 2 weeks - 1 month
    Pre-publication: 2 weeks - 1 month
    Min: 12 months; max: 16 months
    From sending to beta readers to publication: 12 weeks


    However, I have several on the go in various stages: 1 being written, 1 brewing, 1 being prepared for publication. As soon as I finish the first draft of one book and put it aside to brew, I start on the next. That means I can put out a book every 4-6 months. For self-pubbing, that's a good system to keep the pot boiling.
     
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  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I don't think a good editor can do the job you need on content based on an outline. I would suspect you would need at least a good first draft or close before they can do a real job on that. They need good context etc and to see a good bit of your writing style before they can do what many call a developmental edit. Without seeing how you write how can they really help you decide what goals you can achieve with a work and how you can achieve them?

    I think you have a lot more flexibility with your beta readers. With them I might suggest the time you go to them is when you need them. For example, I am about 86k into my eventual 125k novel and I am hitting to plot problems and have some questions I really want some outside perspective on before I take any more steps. Now is the time I am going to turn to those readers because I just know or feel now is the time I need them.
     
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  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Pauline,

    I read Write Better, Faster first, but I liked 5000 WPH better. I didn't really take any action after the first book, but I started sprints immediately after reading Fox. Of course, there might be something to the cumulative impact of reading both in a short period ...

    Where Fox says, "Do this!" Leonelle says, "Try to figure out what works best for you." That's one good thing about Write Better, Faster.

    I tend to agree with that approach. One needs to do what works best for that person.

    You have a lot more experience than me, though, and I'm sure that you have a process down that works for you. I'm still trying to figure things out, so I'm willing to experiment.

    I'm committing to outlining my next book (which is a huge change for me) and to tracking my sprints for a month (see the Challenge forum).

    That's fantastic!

    Best of luck to you. Any interest in doing a beta read exchange?

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  8. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Russ,

    Thanks for addressing my questions.

    Man, it'd be so much more efficient to get feedback on the outline, but I fear you're right.

    Part of my issue, also, is the definition of "developmental/content/structural edit." Some editors really focus on consistency and fact checking. I just don't see that as a huge issue. For one thing, I tend not to make too many of those kinds of mistakes (I make plenty of other kinds of mistakes; that's just not one of my major weaknesses :) ). For another, what mistakes I do make will really only be noticed by nitpickers. My philosophy is that nitpickers are going to pick nits. Nothing you can do about it.

    All that to say: I want a developmental edit that improves my story, characters, tension, and emotion. Otherwise, it's not worth the $$$. And, truthfully and unfortunately, that probably can't be done by looking at the outline.

    Regarding beta readers, I think I'd rather pick a time in my process when I'm going to use them.

    Thanks again!

    Brian
     
  9. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Some observations on Outlining:

    1. Man, it's hard not to just start writing the darn book. Discipline, Brian, discipline.

    2. I'm not sure I was ever a pure pantser. I always knew where my books were heading, and I typically put thought into my scenes before writing them. So outlining doesn't change my process a whole bunch. On my commute, I go through a scene over and over again, letting the action play out and characters reveal themselves. When I get to a computer, I make notes on what happened in my head during my drive. The only real difference is that I'm making notes instead of writing the actual scene and that I'm doing this for every scene for the entire book before starting the writing.

    3. I can see how the outline will speed the process! I've got all the hard work of creating done. Now, I just have to connect the dots and color in the picture.

    4. I also think that the outline, to a large degree, pretty much replaces my first draft. That being the case, my real first draft is going to be a lot closer to what used to be my second draft. Making my second draft more like my third. I think, then, that there's a good possibility that I'll be able to skip the third draft prior to sending it for content editing. If (big IF) that works out, that's a three week savings off the top.

    5. Just for kicks, here's my outline for the first chapter:

    Goal – Prevent LI from coming to harm
    Opposition – Ineptitude, SAMM
    Consequence – LI gets hurt

    Zack tries to climb a hurricane fence.
    He’s struggling. Glasses fall off his face.
    Needs to get contacts if he’s going to continue going out as a vigilante.
    So stupid for him to be out with Bear Steel rumored to be hitting Town tonight. But he has to do it. LI is coming over to do homework. He couldn’t live with himself if something happened to her.
    Needs a good vantage point to see her, and this is the best one on her route. Why wouldn’t she just let him pick her up. No matter what she said, he was going to drive her home.
    Returns to trying to climb the fence.
    Hears something behind him. He spins to find a real superhero, SAMM
    Friend or foe?
    You’re totally my favorite hero. I can’t believe I’m meeting you. That time you did that thing! And that other time! Can I have your autograph?
    Who are you? What are you doing out here?
    Oh, yeah. The costume. “I’m the Crimson Ninja. A new vigilante.”
    SAMM sighs. Kid, it’s dangerous being out tonight, especially for a wannabe. Go home.
    I’m not a wannabe.
    Are you registered?
    No, but—
    Then, you’re a wannabe.
    “You don’t understand. My … friend … is walking to my house. I know it’s stupid for either of us to be out, but I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She insisted. And you don’t know LI, when she—”
    “Where is she?”
    Try the park. The path from her house will take her right through it.
    SAMM grimaces. That’s the absolute worst place to be. When there’s a battle, we always try to steer it there to minimize property damage.
    Oh, no!
    “It’s okay, kid. Go home. I’ll find her and make sure she’s safe.”
    Really? That would be, like, awesome.
    Zack goes home. Worried and wondering if LI is going to be okay.
     
  10. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Brian, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a terrible beta reader. I really find it difficult to disconnect me-as-writer and just be me-as-critical-reader. And then, to do it properly needs a huge amount of time, which I really don't have. Sorry.
     
  11. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Pauline,

    Not a problem. Totally understand.

    I'm about to try paid beta readers for my re-release of Abuse of Power. I'm interested to see how that turns out. There's a group over at kboards who offer the service of $1/1000 words, so $25 or so to test it out works for me.

    I was going to ask you, though, about your production rates that you mentioned above: what is your average word count per title?

    Thanks.

    Brian
     
  12. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    I've used Frostbite Publishing for beta reads. They're expensive, but pretty thorough. If that's the group you're thinking of, I can recommend them. Kira Tregoning of fantasticalreads is a lot cheaper (she charged me $55 for 165K words), and also very good.

    Here are the exact numbers. I aim for 1,000+ words per session, and I try to write every day, but I fail on both counts! Also, the first two books were written with nothing else (writing-related) going on. By the time I got to the third, I was prepping the first for publication, and that seriously detracted from writing time (for me, anyway). For the current wip, I've made a conscious effort to increase my production rate, because spending 8 months on one book really drags things out, I find. Writing faster helps me really get into the story.

    The Plains of Kallanash: 190 writing days over 12 months, 220K words (1K per day)
    The Fire Mages: 90 writing days over 5 months, 151K (1600 per day)
    The Mages of Bennamore: 119 writing days over 8 months, 157K words (1300 per day)
    The Magic Mines of Asharim: 135 writing days over 8 months, 164K words (1200 per day)
    (Current wip, approx 75% done) The Fire Mages’ Daughter: 63 writing days over 4 months, 90K words (1400 per day)


    This is probably more information than you wanted! I keep all these stats for my own information, so it's nice to have an excuse to share them. :) I'm not the world's fastest writer, as you can see.
     
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  13. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    Okay, I'll check her out. I have no idea the name of the group - just saw a post advertising them recently. I figured I'd throw $25 at them and another $25 onto Elance.

    Not at all! I love data.

    Wow, 220k. Rise is 100k less than that.

    Do you use sprints? I'm only on my second day, but I'm excited to see where they take me. I edited almost 5300 words in an hour, and I'm finding I'm more motivated to put my butt in a chair.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Brian
     
  14. PaulineMRoss

    PaulineMRoss Inkling

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    Yeah, Kallanash is stupidly long. But I'm told that it's easy to read.

    Sometimes, but it's not a big thing. Mostly, I have my long writing session during the evening, but I'll have shorter sessions during the day, sometimes. I don't really call them sprints though, because that implies fast, and I'm not a fast writer. :) But I find that several short sessions gets a lot of writing done, so it works, whatever I call it.

    And yes, the more I write, the more I want to write (if that makes sense).
     
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  15. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Brian, I think you can do it. Stick to your plan, be flexible if the need arises, and ruthlessly pursue your goal. Spend time in nature and with family to give you introspective time (perspective). You got this.
     
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  16. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Starting the rough draft in November? Make it a 'National Novel Writing Month' project - 50,000 words in one month.

    (I am doing 'Camp NaNoWriMo' at the moment and failing miserably (just like the previous two tries).

    I have said for a while now that I don't begin a work unless I have at least semi-solid ideas as to the beginning, middle, and end. As of late, I have started by writing short outlines, because while each novella is composed of scenes I have been batting around for months (or longer), sometimes their exact placement is problematic.

    Plus, I find it very difficult to focus on any given project for more than a couple of months. Last novella took me seven weeks, the last two of which were torture - and that's just the rough draft.
     
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  17. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    ThinkerX,

    I just can't seem to make myself care all that much about NaNoWriMo. Plus, I've been highly motivated lately to write, so I think I'm running ahead of schedule. As soon as I get the outline finished, about 25% complete now, I'll start writing, and that's looking more like Sep 1 than Nov 1.

    The original timeline was based on it taking me a while to complete Abuse of Power (it's ready for beta reading now, ahead of schedule) and assumed that editing for Rise of the Mages was going to take up more of my time. In actuality, I'm easily able to keep pace with the editor by only putting in about a half hour a day.

    Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    Brian
     
  18. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    So I read a thread over at the Writers Cafe that basically said, "I read this post where someone is publishing a novel every month. How is that possible?" The replies essentially boiled down to, "Completely believable." One lady said she personally wrote 150k words in a single month. A lot of people are churning out a lot of words. Stuff that people are buying.

    I can't help but think, "If they can do it, so can I!"

    My original schedule for Repulsive was 224 days ending on May 23rd. Rethinking my schedule:

    Outline 21 Days (very realistic. I'm already 2/3 done.)
    Rough draft 34 Days (this seems crazy, but 3k/day give me 65k in 22 days. That's 2 days of float and 10 days for editing. Eliminated my 3rd pass because the outline is essentially my first pass.)
    Beta Readers 14 Days (Eliminated the structural edit. Tough choice, but budget and time wise, not sure it was worth it)
    2nd draft 10 Days (I'm averaging around 10k WPH editing Rise and Abuse of Power)
    Copy Edit 7 Days
    Final Draft 7 Days
    Proofreading 7 Days

    Total: 100 days starting July 14. That puts me with a finished product on 10/22. Aggressive, but it seems realistic. I'll keep y'all updated.

    In an ideal world:

    Publish Abuse of Power on 9/1 (Tough but doable. In beta reading now.)
    Publish Rise of the Mages on 10/1 (Easily doable. In Copy Edit now.)
    Publish Repulsive on 11/1
     
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  19. L M Rush

    L M Rush Scribe

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    It's inspiring seeing the ambition and clear thinking a lot of you guys here have. I think the time limit you've set yourself seems reasonable, but as quite a few people have pointed out - It won't be the end of the world if you miss the target. But as you said yourself, it's a win-win scenario really. Either you get it done quickly and efficiently, or you get it done and learn what slowed you down this time round. Good luck.
     
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  20. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    We have a boarder here who did 108,000+ words during the July Camp NaNoWriMo.

    Sadly, I managed a mere 11,000 - same as June, which was less than May's. On the other hand I am busy with real world projects this time of year.
     
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