Monday, July 11, 2011

Post: Book #7 and the Lessons Learned


It's no secret. The drafting process of my seventh book is finally over--the shortest and most time consuming novel I have yet to write (two and a half years). Then again, J.K. Rowling's first Harry Potter book took five years, and it's even shorter. There's still hope, right?

Two and a half years is a fair chunk of time. I'd be an idiot if I hadn't learned something from it. I think I did, and maybe these lessons learned will be helpful to you.

Length - it matters, depending on the market you write for. I started with epics. I was long-winded. Now that I've found my niche and finished my second YA book, word count really matters. Even now I understand that my almost 105k novel is a little too long for a YA entry. Not to worry. The editing stage has just begun and I've already cut 2000 words from the first three chapters. They read better now, and still retain its potency. The difference between writing to impress and telling a story really is tens of thousands of words. I've cut back!

Feedback - this book is also a collaboration, a story created by two with artistic/literary license granted to me. Writing to fit my vision with another's has been the most challenging and rewarding experience in my thirteen years of writing. It helped me find my voice, having my creative expression scrutinized by my fellow creator, Michael, and my select horde of alpha readers.

Integration - life happens. It's not always pleasant. Several accidents slowed me down and required some real effort to think straight again (head injury). Even so, those unpleasantries make for great story fodder. I fell off a horse and hit my head. Apply to my main alternate -medieval character, add a fear of horses, and you have a unique aspect that allowed an outlet for my frustration and a flaw that makes the character more likable.

There's a library shelf full of other lessons learned, but these are the most career-changing. I couldn't do this without my friends, supportive wife, amazing alphas, and this awesome blogging community. Your readership means a lot. Thought you deserved to know that.

Click here on Thursday--Aspiring Advice is coming back!

I'm David, and it's manuscript slice-and-dice time!

12 comments:

  1. So long as your medieval character doesn't use a wench to mount his horse we can still be friends. Those sound like some exciting paradigm shifts. Glad to have you back and sharing them with the rest of us.

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  2. I love learning from epic writing adventures. It makes you realize that you actually are growing. :)

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  3. Good work! I know what it's like to be long-winded. I had to cut back so much for my first book. It's definitely something that gets easier each time around. And I'm glad for the learning experience. Hopefully this time around, though, it won't take me three years to write my WIP.

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  4. I think it's awesome that you've finished your seventh book, whereas I am still in the midst of my first one.

    By the way, if you've been having trouble viewing my blog, that's because I changed the URL. You can view it at http://www.mattswritinglair.blogspot.com.

    Will be waiting to hear the status of the new book!

    -Matt

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  5. So, is this 7th book of yours going to be a series, or just a standalone novel?

    -Matt

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  6. Congrats on getting to the end of drafting! Editing is my FAVORITE.

    Here's to lessons learned!

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  7. Sounds like you've made some progress. Hope the editing phase goes smoothly.

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  8. Interesting to hear about the slicing and dicing; I've done quite a bit of that myself and have learned so, so much from the process. Happy editing to you! :)

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  9. Thank you all for commenting! :)

    Steph - Nah. The "wench" has her own horse.

    Kathryn - I hear you. I don't ever want to spend this much time writing one book again, if can help it.

    Matt - It's the start of a series, but I wrote the first book to be like a standalone. You know what? That's a great topic for my Thursday column. That's what I'll touch on. And you started writing sooner than me. I have no doubt you'll get there.

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  10. Congratulations on finishing number seven! Glad you're moving swiftly through the cutting stage.

    Thank you for the glimpse of your writing journey. Very inspiring! I had no idea about your accident. So happy you recovered!

    Hope you're having a fantastic week...:)

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  11. Glad you're back in the blogosphere! Too bad about the head injury but how cool that you could use it!

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