Time to write. (How long does it take to write a novel? Pt 4)

It’s been a while since I posted about the editing of my new novel as I’ve been a little bit busy with other stuff. More to follow on that in another blog soon.

In my last blog on how long it was taking to write Troll Life, I was up to 158 hours. I’ve had other priorities throughout September but it hasn’t been totally neglected.

After my first read through, I had quite a lot of work to do but most of that was complete and I only had a couple more things to resolve.

Edit Marie story 15th August (1 hour)

Marie is a relatively minor character but is still crucial to the story. I wasn’t convinced with elements of her story however when I came to tackle them, it was  a lot less work than I imagined. An hour and it was sorted.

Evernote notes 16th August (1 hour)

Evernote is my default note taking tool and as well as my Editing Checklist that I will come to later, I make general notes about issues that need to be resolved in the overall story. Most of these had been tackled earlier so once again it was quite an easy task to get these rattled of in an hour.

Create Save The Cat Beat Sheet in Excel 17th August (1 hour)

I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake and this is something I should have done sooner. I’ve explained about Save The Cat in other blogs and it was invaluable for plotting however I did all my plotting in the outline in Scrivener.

That was perfect when I was planning but I should have replicated it in Excel as it was a lot more difficult to check if I had stuck to it when everything was written and chapters moved around. No real harm done although I still have a question as to whether my B story really is my B story.

Second read through. 21st – 25th August (8 hours)

Another read through on the Kindle. Making some minor changes as I go and making notes against chapters or in Evernote if they are slightly bigger issues. Overall I am quite pleased with it, I doubt there will ever be a time when I am ecstatic about how good my book is, I’ll always have writer’s doubt, but it is beginning to take shape.

Put into Word and check grammar and typos 25th-28th August (5 hours)

Scrivener has a grammar checker and it is average at best. Some would argue that the one in Word isn’t much better however it will throw up different issues so always worth running it through both. You don’t have to accept the changes but I find it a necessary step in the process if a little onerous.

Act on notes against chapters. 31st August (2 hours)

Some of the bigger changes noted during the read through. Sometimes ‘big’ changes only require one or two lines adding or removing and this only took a couple of hours.

Name changes.  1st September (1 hour)

This will be an ongoing process. With Life In The Balance I was changing names right at the last minute. It’s hard when you have grown to love or hate characters and suddenly they become somebody else.

I changed two or three names, mainly minor characters. Marie who I mentioned earlier became Maria then Rebecca. Some simple rules with names is to avoid names beginning or ending with the same letter as other characters. Try and mix up the number of syllables in the names and also look out for any that sound alike.

I’d love to change the surname of the protagonist however he is a character in Idle Threats so he is stuck with it.

Create timeline in Excel 4th -15th September (5 hours)

Again, something I maybe should have looked at doing earlier. A tedious but necessary process that will show any inconsistencies with your timeline. In Idle Threats and Life In The Balance, the dates appeared as chapters in the books. You don’t need to do this and indeed, I’m not with Troll Life but it is always worth having a timeline for yourself so you can see whether concurrent storylines can pan out over the same time period etc.

This novel starts where Idle Threats ends so I had my start date and worked from there. There were a few minor issues but nothing that couldn’t be resolved by some minor tweaks.

Editing checklist. 18th September – 2nd October (15 hours)

This is the big one. The most tedious, annoying, frustrating part of the process but it has to be done. I have an editing checklist in Evernote and some of it is standard stuff but most of it is personal to me. Mistakes I know that I make, tics if you like.

They could be because of regular typing errors (I somehow always type ‘busty’ instead of ‘busy’!) or occasionally the way I speak ends up on the page and it isn’t appropriate.

The current list has 43 items and I’m adding to it all the time.

There’s no easy way to tackle it, just take each note at a time and work through the manuscript. Searching for every instance of a word will not only highlight misuse but possibly overuse. There are words and phrases that I use more often than I should and it’s a challenge to look for alternatives but that’s what writing is all about. That is the craft.

My heart sinks when I go to a new page and see multiple instances of the same word highlighted. It’s not always appropriate to change them but they should always be reviewed.

I may share the list at a later date, I’ll wait until I finish the process as I’m sure I’ll have added to it.

That’s where I am at the minute, possibly time for another read through but I may leave it to percolate for a little while to get some fresh eyes on it.

We’re up to 197 hours and whilst I can see light at the end of the tunnel, there’s still a long way to go.


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