The question I get asked the most (after the basic what is your book about, when is the next one coming out, and why did you decide to write) is how long it takes to write a book. I’m finding this isn’t something that varies only from author to author, but from book to book. The Convergence took me 5 years start to finish. And when I say finish I mean completed edited and set for release. More on that writing process is in this blog.
The Keep has been very, very different for me to write.
I started with an outline this time. (Yes, I had an actual plan!). I took the format for this from a writing conference. It breaks the story into parts and gives an estimated length/starting point. This is what it looks like for a 300 page book like The Keep:
Page 40 – First Reversal
Page 80 – Character’s Commit to Goal
Page 115 – Almost Achieve Goal
Page 150 – Dramatic Turn of Events
Page 190 – Point of No Return
Page 225 – Climax/Twist
Page 280 – Ending/Resolution
I had to alter this for my book since it’s a sequel. I didn’t need 40 pages to set a scene and introduce characters. My first reversal starts in the first chapter. What that means is something changes for Desiree. Her path is altered or she either wins or loses the upper hand. *Spoiler* For example, my first reversal in The Convergence is when Desiree finds out she’s adopted.
I can’t remember the exact number, but I think that a book agent said a book my length should have somewhere around 30 reversals. I have never actually counted mine. They seem to happen a lot faster as the book progresses. Desiree looks like she’s winning and then another wrench is thrown into the works. I don’t seem to have a hard time throwing in reversals, but I’m also strange in that I don’t have a hard time putting my character’s through horrible things. All for growth, right?
Getting back to the process, I made the above outline for The Keep–which I filled in with names and descriptions of new characters. Finally, I started writing. By about this time last year, I had a couple chapters done. I worked (very sporadically) on it through the summer. In the fall, I holed up in hotel for a week and got serious about things. At about page 100, I realized my book was going to be way too short. Even with all the editing to come, I was already at point of no return. So I had to brainstorm and threw in a whole new part. I think it spans about 4 chapters, and I’m really glad I added it. Anyhow, when I returned from that trip I had about 16 chapters done. Once again, I worked on it here and there until my next book writing trip in December. I came back from that one with 28 chapters completed. Right after the release of The Convergence, I took one last trip in which I finished the book and got almost half of it through first round edits. I’m hoping to have finished the edits by mid-May.
So it will be available in May??? NO, NO, NO. I would not torture you with that kind of writing! I will torture my poor beta-readers. They’ll suffer through the plot holes and sub-par descriptions for you. Then they’ll tell my where the really big, gaping holes are that I missed. I will patch these and probably have to change a lot of things around. Then I’ll edit the second time. This time I’ll be adding more description, fine-tuning the dialogue, and repairing those plot holes. Next, I’ll take a month off (probably to spend writing book three). I call this ‘marinating time’. With fresh eyes, I’ll come back to The Keep and read it out loud. This helps me catch problems with the flow and also helps me to catch grammar and typo mistakes. Once again it will go to beta readers to make sure everything was patched up and then, the final read-out-loud edit. (By this time I’ll have it memorized). I’ll order an advanced proof and edit again for grammar (this time I’ll have a friend do the same….I had about 20 problems found after publication in book one and I’m hoping to avoid that this go round.) Then, finally. FINALLY! I will release the book to you, my friends.
So let’s review the process. Outline. Actual writing. Adding in sub-plots for length. Editing AT LEAST 5 times. And then the book is yours. So time frame? This book from start to release day will be about 18 months. I did take a lot of time off during the summer and through the holidays so I’m hoping to have book three done in 12 months flat. Probably very wishful thinking, but 18 months wasn’t hard at all.
A more specific breakdown of time is that it takes me about 2 hours to write the first draft of a chapter, 4 hours for first edits, 3 hours for second edits, 2 for third, 1 for forth, and (if it really is about ready) 30 minutes for fifth round edits. That means, 12.5 hours per chapter. And since my book is about 36 chapters long, if this was my 40 hour a week job, I could write a book in 11 weeks. But that doesn’t leave time for ‘marinating’ or beta readers to read it or even include the original outline/plotting time.
So, yeah, writing a book takes a lot of time. The sad (or is it happy?) thing is that this book will probably take me half the time The Convergence took. Maybe book three will be even easier…..I can only hope!