Sunday, September 22, 2013

WRITING A NOVEL - 25% 50% 25%

WHERE, WHEN, WHO: With the setting decided (Dothan, Alabama), I need to determine when the story takes place. I mentioned in a previous blog that the time period the story covers can be a month, several months, a year, several years, etc., but I also need to determine the "WHEN". Once I know the year the novel starts, it will be easier to develop the characters.

Having grown up in Dothan, I have a particular interest in the late '50s through the early '70s. Dothan was in a growth phase during that period.

The Local, as it is now called, is a story about...

This is a question I will soon need to answer before I begin writing/typing. I will write a short synopsis of the story and boil it down into a single sentence. Then I will start the writing. So you might ask, "When do you think you will actually start writing the story?" Here is the way I set up the timeline for writing the story. Assuming "life" doesn't throw me too many curves, the map below shows how I divide the project. Interestingly, it follows the same "Blueprint" for the actual story (see the previous blog: WRITING A NOVEL - The Blueprint).

25% - 50% - 25%: The beginning/setup section of a novel takes approximately 25%; the middle/development section takes approximately 50%; the ending/final push & aftermath takes 25%. Or you could call them Acts I, II, and III.

For me, writing the story is much the same. I normally spend 25% of the time researching, outlining, building story boards, getting to know the characters. Then I spend 50% of the time writing the first draft. The last 25% is spent re-writing, editing, and polishing the manuscript. If I use that formula, I can tell you the date the novel will be available. Of course "life" will and usually does change the timeline a bit. For example, while writing Flight to Freedom we moved from California to Alabama. I lost almost three months of writing time.

The following timeline is my goal for this next novel:

I want to complete the project in one year (12 months). My first blog post was made on September 11, 2013, so I'll call that the start date. Based on a starting date of 9/11/13, the novel will be available on September 12, 2014. I know there will be situations that will slow me down, but I also know that those situations will most likely contribute to my story--they always do.

Considering one year as my goal, the first phase (25% or 3 months) will occur from September 11, 2013 to December 11, 2013. The second phase (50% or 6 months) will take place from December 12, 2013 to June 11, 2014. The third phase (25% or 3 months) will take place from June 12, 2014 to September 11, 2014.

Based on my 25% - 50% - 25%, when I start writing in December, I must write a certain number of words per day to reach the goal. Shooting for a rough draft of 80,000 words (10% will be cut in re-writes giving me a finished product of approximately 65,000 words), phase one will have 20,000 words, phase two will have 40,000 words, and phase three will have 20,000 words. With an average of 1,600 words per chapter, the novel will have 50 chapters.

My personal goal is to write 1,000 words per day. Some days I write less, some days more. Some weeks I write all seven days, but my target is to write five days per week. With an average of 20 days per month, I will be able to write 20,000 words in one month. So in theory, if I start writing the first draft on December 12, 2013, I should have the draft completed by April 2014 (20,000 x 4 = 80,000) and ahead of schedule, instead of June 11, 2014. Note: I would be foolish to think there won't be any dead days, spells of "writer's block", and the need for more research.

There you have it. The Local will be available on or before SEPTEMBER 12, 2014.

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