Writing Two Novels at Once

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Antique letter

It’s a bit like naval gazing to chart writing process and progress, but here is a summary of my work from May 6, 2013 to July 17, 2013.

I finished the first drafts and first edits of two novels. One month ahead of schedule. It was my most productive two months ever.

A lot of that I attribute to finding characters I love and finding a process for writing a novel that works for me.

Here’s the process that works for me:

  • First, bare bones plotting and lots of character development using stream of consciousness journal writing for as long as it takes until the characters begin to tell their story and I have to revise plot.
  • Writing and lightly editing scene by scene to create a first draft.
  • Writing two different novels at the same time, forcing myself to step away from one world every four or six or eight hours to write a completely different story.
  • Toward the end—close to the climax of the story—I stuck with writing one book for a couple of days before switching to the other novel, but most of the time, I wrote at least one scene of both novels each day.

One novel is the fourth in a series and set in Paris in 1874; the other novel is the first of a new series set in contemporary Brooklyn—but the historic part of Brooklyn, settled by sailors and sea captains and Wall Street tycoons in the early nineteenth century—so that’s a brand new set of characters that I hope will grow and recur.

Expressed in numbers, here’s my progress:

  • I wrote 193,664 words including character development and stream of consciousness journal writing, approximately 20,000 words not actually copied to computer but floating somewhere in my brain and I’m sure thrumming in my finger pads to break free. So there’s some exaggeration in the count.
  • Still, that’s close to 2800 words a day, 4894 being my one day all-time high actually typed into Scrivener.

So should you count words and keep track of them? I did; it gave me a good picture of my progress—I increased my daily word count from 1480 words a day when I worked on Death In Bagheria to 2800 words a day.

Photo: iStockPhoto.

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