The final edit. (How long does it take to write a novel Part 6)
At that stage I was up to 271 hours (40 planning, 80 writing the first draft and the remainder editing).
As you may have noticed in other blogs and various social media posts, Troll Life was officially launched last week at the Sunderland Libraries Literature Festival.
You may also have noticed that I like lists, I have an editing checklist, a list of all my projects with word counts (currently over half a million words), and I even have a list of insults that I dip into every now and then for my writing (and occasionally for day to day life).
I have now added a publishing checklist to my list of lists and I probably should have had one before now. I will write a separate blog on publishing but one of the remaining items on that list is to write my final blog on how long it takes to write a novel.
So here it is.
In June my manuscript was winging its way to my team of critiquers and I was sat back with my feet up awaiting their feedback.
What has happened since then?
In July I made a rare trip through to Newcastle to meet my friends Susie and Jahn for lunch. It’s always nice to catch up but I was especially looking forward to this meeting as Susie had my feedback.
Being the first bit of feedback, it was going to give me an indication as to how good the novel was and how much work would be involved in getting the final version up to scratch.
Whilst Susie is very polite and would never want to offend me, I was relieved when she said she had enjoyed it and also that she could tell how my writing had improved over the years.
I read her feedback on the Metro journey home and found myself agreeing with all of it. I was also mortified to discover that I’d allowed a your/you’re grammar error to slip in and Susie took great delight in pointing it out.
Most of the changes were straightforward and couldn’t be disputed so I did them straight away. There were a couple of bigger ones that I agreed with but I decided to wait for the other feedback before tackling them. The read through of Susie’s feedback and minor changes only took 3 hours.
In September I received Bill’s feedback, handed over, as is tradition, in The Chester’s pub.
Bill is a teacher, owns a red pen and he put it to good use. It took a couple of hours to read through his notes and a lot of the smaller changes matched the ones Susie had highlighted so they had already been implemented, but there were some themes emerging. Whilst Susie and Bill hadn’t highlighted the exact same issues with the story, they had both highlighted that the end needed to change.
I’d raised the stakes of the characters part way through the editing process and I don’t think I’d fully rounded off those parts of the tale.
With both lots of feedback, I knew what I needed to do and I found a way to tie all the strands together and make it work in a way that would be satisfying to everyone.
Surprisingly the rewrite of the ending only took four hours.
I then received my final feedback from my good friend Stephen (Stevie Shit Bets) Monkman. Again, he highlighted some similar themes but slightly different so another five hours saw his suggestions implemented.
It’s interesting to note that out of the three lots of feedback, there were probably only a couple of changes I decided not to implement. I’m not sure whether I trust the feedback more, am more willing to accept criticism or whether it was obvious that they needed to change, but it shows how valuable the feedback and this stage of the process is.
A further ten hours saw me complete a final read through on the Kindle and make some more minor changes. Doesn’t matter how many times you go through it, you will always have missed something.
I then compiled it from Scrivener to Word one final time for another spelling and grammar check. This threw up a lot of unexpected ‘errors’ in the grammar. I’m not sure why I hadn’t picked them up before but as they were a bit of a grey area regarding commas before the words ‘and’ and ‘but’, I’d possibly chosen to ignore them in the past. I decided to bow to Microsoft Word’s wisdom and made the changes. A laborious and unexpected 6 hours of work.
And then I was done.
Now I know the answer to the question ‘How long does it take to write a novel?’
It takes exactly 307 hours.
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