“Novel-Fading” – a learning experience.

In November I wrote a short novel, “Minding Tomorrow”. Then I took two months off the actual writing to edit it and think about the next novel.

In February I wrote a novella, “Monster Story (working title)”. Then I took two months off to keep editing novel number one, and do a bit of editing on number two.

In May I wrote 25,000 words of a planned 60,000 word novel, “Human Danger (working title)”. I didn’t finish it, even though I kept writing into June. The reasons:

  • The first two stories had been very clear in my head in terms of plot, characters, ideas, technology, and themes for many years each. I’ve thought about them as movie plots, TV shows, comics, and computer games alongside the novels they finally became.

    However, in May I decided to have a go at a story idea that really wasn’t fully developed. I’ve actually had it in my head for much longer than the others, and many of the science fiction elements are stronger. My main problem is that the characters and final plot direction were sort of lacking. I thought “If I just start writing, these will come to me!”

    It turns out they did come to me, but really slowly. It was at about word 23,500 that I thought “Oh! Now I know what I’m writing!”

    In other words, I’d spent a month writing when I should have spent a month thinking.

  • Another reason I stopped was because the pace was really dragging. Instead of working in an unbounded universe created entirely by myself, this novel is based on existing work. I had to constantly look through reference material at every step, to make sure I was keeping everything straight. And I knew that a lot of this picky detail would be edited out afterward, but I didn’t know WHAT would stay or go.

    I thought that working from an established reference point would help me write quickly, so thought 2,000 words a days would be possible. It turned out that I was struggling to get 1,000 words per day.

  • Finally, I wasn’t strict enough with myself. Instead of saying “I must write 1,500 words each day, and if I miss a day I need to catch up by the end of the month” I lapsed into “If I don’t write one day, that’s fine, I’ll only count the days I DO write, and I know it will take longer than just May, and I can keep revising my word count goal downwards as it gets trickier…”

    This resulted in me just not writing anything on a day which I felt uninspired or didn’t have enough time to write a good chunk, instead of just bashing out as many words as possible.

My plan with “Human Danger (working title)” is to put it on the back burner for a while. It was certainly a learning experience, so it wasn’t entirely wasted effort. I’ll file it with the four other quarter-finished novels sitting on my hard drive, think about it for another six months, and re-start it again next February.

Then I had two months off… in which I released “Minding Tomorrow” and continued editing “Monster Story (working title)” (seriously, I need to come up with a better title for that one, suggestions in the comments).

Which brings me to my planned August novel… which I’ll write about tomorrow, I’ve got to go get ready for a juggling show now.

Oh, the title references “Pod-fading”, the act of letting your podcast fade away, leaving a series of podcast episodes with no real end point.


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