It has been some time since my last post, but that has mainly been to keep my pace up in finishing the fourth novel started last November. I managed to beat out my previous novel’s fourth edit by three months, so I’m moving considerably faster than I used to! I think the primary contributing factor has been a longer commute. I no longer live and work in Tokyo, but have to commute from a place called Tsukuba, which gives me about 50 minutes each way on the train to write (and saves me coffee money, though I miss mornings writing in a cafe with a glass of iced joe). Not all of the additional speed is from the commute time though, as the statistics I’m posting should show. Like the last time, I took detailed notes on everything (word counts, minutes spent on the different drafts, etc.) so I’m posting them in case anyone finds them interesting.
First Draft (writing to get it done!)
Started Nov 1st, 2013 and Finished Nov 26th, 2013 (vs Nov 1st, 2012 – Dec 13th, 2012 for Novel #3)
Total Word Count: 78,939 words (vs. 75,741 words for Novel #3)
Total Hours Spent: 53.2 hours (vs. 53.8 hours for Novel #3)
Average Pace: 24.7 words / minute (vs. 23.5 for Novel #3)
Best Pace: 35.1 words / minute on one morning train ride (vs. 37.9 words / minute for Novel #3)
Worst Pace: 6.9 words / minute on a difficult section during a work break
Second Draft (edit to fill in scenes, address “notes for later”):
Started November 26th, 2013 and Finished January 15th, 2014 (vs. December 18th – March 18th for Novel #3)
New Total Word Count: 85,353 words (vs. 86,456 words for Novel #3)
* this time around I didn’t have empty scene holders or anything specific left undone, making the second draft much quicker
Total Hours Spent: 37.5 hours (vs. 49.8 hours for Novel #3)
Average Pace: 37.9 words / minute (vs. 28.9 words / minute for Novel #3)
Third Draft (edit for content and flow):
Started January 16th, 2014 and Finished Feburary 27th, 2014 (vs. March 19th – June 7th for Novel #3)
New Total Word Count: 89,846 words (word count for third draft of Novel #3 is nowhere to be found, but likely around 91K)
Total Hours Spent: 49.3 hours (vs. 56.8 hours for Novel #3)
Average Pace: 25.4 words / minute (vs. 26.9 words / minute for Novel #3)
Fourth Draft (edit for consistency and wording):
Started February 28th, 2014 and Finished March 30th, 2014 (vs. June 10th – July 1st for Novel #3)
New Total Word Count: 87,797 words (vs. 97,095 words for Novel #3)
* Unlike Novel #3, I actually managed to trim the length down with better wording, etc.
and I also used a few software programs to do the check (Cliche Cleaner and Editor, highly recommended!)
so the Fourth Draft this time represents a lot more work
Total Hours Spent: 33.1 hours (vs. 23.3 hours for Novel #3)
Average Pace: 44.2 words / minute (vs. 69.4 words / minute for Novel #3)
Started on November 1st, 2013 and Finished on March 30th, 2014 (vs. November 1st – July 1st for Novel #3)
Total Hours Spent: 173.1 hours (vs. 183.7 hours for Novel #3)
Total Words: 87,797 = ~351 pages (vs. 97,095 ~ 388 pages for Novel #3) (at the industry standard 250 words / page)
Total Avg Words / Minute: 8.4 words / minute (vs. 8.8 words / minute for Novel #3)
Unlike the previous novel, this count includes a copy edit and grammar check with software tools, so the end count is a bit like comparing passion fruit and kiwis. One other thing I can say which dramatically improved the writing time was breaking away from the NaNoWrimo habit of “just keep writing” and instead, fixing problems as they came up. That meant problems could be addressed before they wove their way deep into the story rather than waiting until the second or third draft and holding my head in pain as I try to rebuild the house of cards every fix knocks down. If you’re just starting out, I would definitely recommend going the NaNoWrimo way, because getting the first draft of your first novel done is the most important thing, but if you have one or two victories under your belt, consider doing a little more outline-level plot fixing as you go. It will save you time later!!!
The subject matter of this novel was back to Science Fiction from Horror, which was in some ways more comfortable and in some ways more difficult. For me, the things that are more difficult about writing Sci-Fi are: getting the science right (or at least doing my best to investigate where research is going), getting the tone right (aliens, AI, etc. are a much wider cast of characters than modern humans), and formality. The things that were more difficult about writing horror (at least the last novel were): getting the facts straight (I had to spend hours looking up video formats, etc. just to get a few details right), getting the characters to loosen up while still sounding like real people, and getting the tension right. I like both genres a lot, which is why I alternate between them, but they definitely have their differences! My next step will likely be going back to horror, but going for a much more challenging-to-write main character (a teenage girl) and audience (YA). I’ll also be looking at getting a website set up, so I hope to see you there when it’s ready! I’ll keep this blog updated as I get started on the next project and the site.