Okay, my first 2 month segment is complete. As you may recall, my production schedule requires that I complete a stage of a novel’s development every 2 months. So, from July 1st through August 31st, my goal was:
- Plot and Outline one novel. In this case, it’s my middle grade historical, Scorpion Summer.
- Complete the first draft of a novel. As of yesterday, I finished the first draft of my YA Contemporary, Now I Knew You.
- Edit a previous novel, Camp Dogs.
Tomorrow begins a new 2 month period. Everything shifts to the next stage and I add a new novel to the Plot and Outline step.
So how did I do?
Well, I learned a lot. Mostly how to be more efficient. I’ll start with Plot and Outline.
Plot & Outline
I started out plotting Scorpion Summer with my usual method. Write a one line description. Then a paragraph. The use index cards to flesh out the scenes. This is a slow method. In the middle of all this, Randy Ingermanson re-introduced his Snowflake Method in a rather interesting little book entitled How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. Clever title, don’t you think? So I put the Snowflake Method to use, setting up tabs in Microsoft One Note for each step, and went to work. It streamlined my outlining process greatly. As of now, I’ve finished most of the outline for Scorpion Summer, enough that I can get started tomorrow with the first scenes.
This is where I had my best success. I’d outlined Now I Knew You through May and June. I didn’t use the Snowflake, but I hammered it out. I split it up into 60 scenes in Scrivener. This made it easy to set the plot points at the one-quarter marks. Each index card in Scrivener had a brief description of the scene. This allowed me to sit down every night for my hour of drafting and know exactly what I needed to write. There was no time wasted. The scenes came easily and I blew through 1200-1500 words per night. Like I said, I completed my draft yesterday. I begin editing tomorrow. Speaking of… Over the past couple of weeks I tried a different approach to editing. I took a cue from Stephen King and went back over my previous day’s scene and did a quick edit for obvious issues. I plan to continue with that tactic. It gave me a much cleaner draft to begin with.
Here’s where I had the most difficulty. And again, it was lack of a plan that caused me the most pain. I started out reading the entire manuscript of Camp Dogs. That alone took a month. Once the real editing began, I was way behind. So, as I said above, I’ll do my first edit the day after I complete a scene. This should deliver a clean first draft to begin with. And since I’m now writing a novel in 60 days, there’s no reason to go back and re-read the entire draft before beginning my edit. It’s all still very fresh in my mind.
Beta Readers & Final Edit
This is the part that I won’t devote time to, as I can rely on others to read my edited draft. Of course, I’ll have to make changes depending on their feedback, but I’ll find that time on weekends and later nights if necessary. I may lose some reading time. Once the betas have done their work and determined my novel a workable plot, I’ll ship it off to a copy editor. Again, any changes will be made on weekends.
My hope is to have Camp Dogs complete for upload to Amazon in November. Followed by Now I Knew You in January.
So the first two months of my little experiment has gone well. I give me a B-. By taking a few steps to improve efficiency, I believe I can consistently produce a novel every two months. And that’s while holding down a full-time job during the day.
I’ll continue with my regular updates. And, as always, write big or stay home!