Support for Indie Authors discussion

46 views
Archived Author Help > How Much Time do you Take?

Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments I've found I do my best work via this formula:

Very extensive outlining process, scene by scene

Write the story, filling out the scenes. I tend to do what I call the manic-speed-demon thing during this phase, churning out up to 10,000 words a day. The last few days, I hardly sleep.

For a few days after that, I do nothing but sleep, and try to regain my sanity.

I go through the whole thing and edit for clarity, language, etc.

Then I put it away for about a month, and work on a different project. Usually develop the next outline.

Then I go back to the book I've finished and go through it again. That time away gives me a more objective eye, and I can catch things that I'd missed the first time around.

Overall, this seems to result in the best quality of work. It can take between two to six months to complete, depending on the length of the project.

How do other people do it? Is taking a step back at the end of the book common, or am I a weirdo?


message 2: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments After a couple years of trial and error, false starts and blind alleys I went back to the drawing board this year and am trying this:

- Outline the premise and world-building in a rulebook/user manual - basically everything I was trying to write in the last few failed draft but in textbook form rather than as scenes.

- Outline a bare-bones plot without getting hung up on details, dialogue and narration - basically everything I remember about my story that I want to keep and anything new to fit what didn't work the last few times.

- Incorporate world-building outline into plot outline. Let the plotline dictate what mythos gets mentioned and develop and double check whether I left out anything important.

- Reread failed draft and see if any dialogue/narration can get reused or reappropriated.

- Reread outline, make sure everything is flowing with as much details as possible.

- Write rough draft without second-guessing myself every other page or a care in the world :D

- Edits, rewrites, red pens, reading aloud, subjecting family and friends to neurotic bouts and terrible grammar, night terrors, chronic sobbing.

- Remove 10% from the final word count. Seems like a good rule to ensure everything was said concisely and avoid unnecessary bloating or plot lag :D


message 3: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Wow, 10k words in a day! I wish I had the ability to do even half that!

I do take a step back, but not for a month. Once I have my first presentable-ish draft, it goes out to a handful of beta/proofreaders. I use that time to work on the cover & blurb, start sketching ideas for my next book, or just do something totally not book related, but that's usually only about a week.


message 4: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Good point about taking a step back when it's time for edits. I may either start composing agent queries, scouting good fits and begin outlining they next book. It'll give me time to think my next move and do my research through rather than act on impulse and hope things work out.


message 5: by Riley, Viking Extraordinaire (new)

Riley Amos Westbrook (sonshinegreene) | 1510 comments Mod
.....I just write, hand it to the wife, and let her translate it. Having two minds on a work really seems to work, as we catch each other's misses, and just go over it until we don't find any. Even then, as B.B. is fond of saying...dust bunnies!


message 6: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4277 comments Mod
Jenycka wrote: "How do other people do it?"

I start with a rough draft. I write it as fast as I can. With the novel I'm working on I take breaks every few days and let it cool off, then come back and pound out some more words. I don't care if it's making sense or not. I just go where it wants to go.

I might put it aside for a few days, hours, minutes, when it's done.

Then I go through and edit everything that doesn't make sense and try to get it formed into some kind of story. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Eventually, I decide it's done and publish.


message 7: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Christina wrote: "Wow, 10k words in a day! I wish I had the ability to do even half that!."

It's actually a skill you can build up to. I've found that if I have a very extensive outline, right down to each scene, I can do it. But if I don't know exactly what I'm going to write, it won't happen. It took me about three months of practise to get up to that many words a day. A good ergonomic keyboard, a comfortable seat, my reading glasses, a quiet house, my water beside me... no distractions... it all has to be in place. But it speeds up my production time. And since I'm all about the 'long tail', that's pretty much what I'm about right now.


message 8: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments I've had similar momentum in the past when I wrote a draft off a carefully constructed outline - something like 125 pages in 3 weeks. It pretty much sold me outlining is the way I need to go rather than hmming and hawing every other page.


message 9: by Michael (new)

Michael P. Dunn (wordboy1) | 86 comments I work on multiple projects at the same time, writing everything out spiral notebooks, trying to work as fast as I can. The actual daily production varies due to a number of external factors so I'm just happy to get any writing done on any given day.

Once a project is finished and typed up (with some editing done as I'm typing) it sits for about six weeks. This gives my mind time to stop thinking about it so that when I start formal editing, I'm looking at it from a fresher perspective. When I edit, I print out a copy, bust out the red pen and go through it line by line, correcting grammar and spelling, adding or removing where necessary. Update the saved file on the hard drive then wait another six weeks. Repeat at least three times, more if necessary.


message 10: by Owen (last edited Apr 21, 2015 10:32PM) (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Jenycka wrote: "How do other people do it? Is taking a step back at the end of the book common, or am I a weirdo?"

I think taking a step back is vital. I work with a co-author, so we both take a step back and we make a point of reading the work aloud when we do. (It finds a lot of mistakes and gives a much better feel for rhythm.)

For the rest, we don't outline, plot things out, or plan in any detail. We have a structure and goal that we retain in memory, but we don't write it down in outline form. The closest we come are emails to some nice and patient folks we bounce ideas off of. These act (in some cases) almost like a diary to clarify our thinking on critical issues, often related to the underlying psychology of our characters.

We are at this point writing nine books at once. Five or six of these are pretty active; the others we poke at now and again. We are also writing an introductory piece for a new series, that we'll finish and then shelve until we're ready to get serious about that series.

What we write are basically like puzzle pieces. We assume that each piece is part of some book. Pieces spawn other pieces and sometimes change the direction and flow between the end points we have set. (The end points are all that we've fixed in place.)

Having written a whole bunch of puzzle pieces, we stir them around until they click. At that point, we have most of a book and we see the missing pieces (and extra pieces) more clearly, so we fill them in (or take them out). When we’ve done that, we’ll go work on other things (or nothing) and let what we think is a book alone for a while (how long varies) and then come back to see if we still think we have a book. We usually send it out to alpha readers at that point as well. If the consensus is that it’s a book, we clean up things and go beta. Then we do all the mundane stuff.

Since each book is not its own separate project, it’s hard to say how long it takes. We’ve been putting out roughly book a year thus far. We hope to get another novel and a short novel/long novella out this year, and increase the publishing frequency to two books a year for the future.

Edit: that's the writing part. Because of what we write, there's the "problem solving" part. Current problem: evacuate 80,000 civilians from a free-fire zone in ~2 hours, in the presence of hostile ground forces, orbital defenses, and an enemy fleet. Consider available forces, logistical requirements, lead times for critical resources, C4ISR reqs & infrastructure...

Oh yeah -- Do so in a way that readers will find plausible and (at least) moderately interesting.

That’s probably what takes the most time for us.


message 11: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments I guess I should ask. Are you guys writing literary or popular fiction? I write erotica. I know what it's about, I know who it's for. I know what the readers are looking for, and it's not symbolism or nuance or irony. So most of what I churn out is incredibly simplistic, by litarary standards. I have no shame in that; right now, I write to make money, and sex sells. I maintain a standard of quality I'm comfortable with, a certain level of emotional depth that is definitely not always present in my genre, and a level of character development that is appropriate for the story. But I'm not looking for the Booker or the Giller here.

I think if I was writing something more complex, it would go a lot slower. But there really are days where the biggest logistic point I'm worrying about is... would that fit there if they were in that position?


message 12: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments I'm definitely more popular genre :)


message 13: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Courtney wrote: "I'm definitely more popular genre :)"

What genre do you write in?


message 14: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Jenycka wrote: "I guess I should ask. Are you guys writing literary or popular fiction? I write erotica."

We write military sci-fi, and we throw it in the space opera bin, although it might almost fit in hard sc-fi (I'm not terribly conversant with sub-genres). We shoot for a heavy dose of "realism" in all aspects of our stories.


message 15: by Jenycka (last edited Apr 21, 2015 11:25PM) (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Owen wrote: "We write military sci-fi, and we throw it in the space opera bin, although it might almost fit in hard sc-fi (I'm not terribly conversant with sub-genres). We shoot for a heavy dose of "realism" in all aspects of our stories. "

So still definitely far more complex than "he stuck that there"


message 16: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Jenycka wrote: "So still definitely far more complex than "he stuck that there"

I'm afraid so. Our last book describes planning and executing an operation on the scale of the Battle of Midway, translated into sci-fi and distributed over two solar systems. (The bulk of which never gets actually mentioned in the book, of course.)

My desk retains the imprints of my forehead, inflicted as I thought: "Why WHY did I do this to myself?" (I have no good answer to that question.)


message 17: by Charles (new)

Charles Hash | 1054 comments Because somebody had to?


message 18: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Owen wrote: "Jenycka wrote: "So still definitely far more complex than "he stuck that there"

I'm afraid so. Our last book describes planning and executing an operation on the scale of the Battle of Midway, tra..."


Sincere hats off to you, my friend. You have a great deal of patience and forebearance. I do intend on writing something more complex in the future, but for now I'm content in the smut-tastic world of impossible sexual maneuvers.


message 19: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Charles wrote: "Because somebody had to?"

Well, there is that. And I'm afraid I was too hasty in typing there, because sometimes someone comes along who's been there and says: "Ya did good." And that's worth some dents in the desk.

Jenycka wrote: "Sincere hats off to you, my friend. You have a great deal of patience and forebearance. I do intend on writing something more complex in the future, but for now I'm content in the smut-tastic world of impossible sexual maneuvers."

Thank you! Where you are is not a bad place to be, IMHO. You might even combine the two at some point.


message 20: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Owen wrote: "Thank you! Where you are is not a bad place to be, IMHO. You might even combine the two at some point."

Well my one series is a little more complex. It's a high-fantasy setting, so the world-building is pretty multifaceted. I've got more material that my readers will never see than what they actually do see with that one. But I keep the storylines themselves fairly simple. And since I know that the readers are mainly focused on the sexual elements, the plot still surrounds that.

There is actually something to the art of designing sex scenes that progress story and character development forward. But it's not as intricate as scifi and stuff.


message 21: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Jenycka wrote: "There is actually something to the art of designing sex scenes that progress story and character development forward. But it's not as intricate as scifi and stuff..."

Perhaps not, but very few authors (IMO) do it well. Especially most sci-fi authors.


message 22: by Jenycka (new)

Jenycka Wolfe (jenyckawolfe) | 301 comments Owen wrote: "Jenycka wrote: "There is actually something to the art of designing sex scenes that progress story and character development forward. But it's not as intricate as scifi and stuff..."

Perhaps not, ..."


I have to confess, the only scifi I've ever read is the erotic kind.

Are your books available on Amazon?


message 23: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Jenycka wrote: "I have to confess, the only scifi I've ever read is the erotic kind.

Are your books available on Amazon?"


They are. If you are interested, PM me and I can save you some money.


message 24: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4277 comments Mod
Jenycka wrote: "I guess I should ask. Are you guys writing literary or popular fiction?"

Currently I'm focused on general fiction / literature. Sometimes I write humor, sometimes horror, sometimes light sci-fi / science fantasy. Sometimes a mix of some of the above.


message 25: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Sharp (margaretlynettesharp) | 14 comments I start with a general idea of the plot, and work on it as I progress. Usually I leave final revision for a day or two, until I'm fresh. This seems to work.


message 26: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Scifi and fantasy here. I once considered pen name smut, but only got as far as thinking about it because then my paranoia about being found out kicked in, so hats off to you for being able to put your work out there.


message 27: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Briginshaw | 73 comments Jenycka wrote: "I've found I do my best work via this formula:

Very extensive outlining process, scene by scene

Write the story, filling out the scenes. I tend to do what I call the manic-speed-demon thing durin..."


I suspect every author is different. I use a technique called "Organic Writing" which I wrote about in my blog a few months ago. Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...


message 28: by P.D. (new)

P.D. Workman (pdworkman) My process is similar. My outline is not that details, and I try to hit at least 5,000 words per day. I can occasionally hit 10,000 words on a day off. After it is done, season for a month before beginning the reviewing and editing process. I think my fastest has been potting one out in 7 months.


message 29: by Igzy (new)

Igzy Dewitt (IgzyDewitt) | 148 comments I start with a grip-it-and-rip-it first draft that invariably stinks of failure by the fifth chapter, then I go back and outline and find out where I got lost. This is where I tend to get my general feeling of what it is I want to write about. Usually this involves space sheriffs or alien cowboys.

Outlining for me is world building. I set the settings down in detail, as much of it as I can cram in. I write up character bios, including short story snippets, random bits of dialog, and hammer away at them until I know them, and where they are. Forearmed with an understanding of the who and the where, I go back to a general outline and work on the what, and churn out a first draft that has purpose and direction.

Then it's editing. By draft 4 I'm usually at the 'not churned out by apes' phase, and feel comfortable getting some trusted eyes on it for general feedback (and undoubtedly some well enjoyed red circles around the typos I missed multiple times ... jerks.)

Then we fix what's broken, I ignore the advice I don't like, because it's my word baby and they can cram it, and I start looking for proper editors who can give it the attention it needs to really whip it into shape.

In general I aim for 2,000 words a day. Any more than that and I lose my way and end up slashing whole sections out the next day like a Frenchman at last night's paintings.

Be well, have fun, and keep writing :).


message 30: by L.F. (new)

L.F. Falconer | 63 comments I usually begin with a single scene and work from there. Sometimes that scene ends up at the beginning, sometimes the middle, or even near the end...I never know until I get the entire story written.

I write everything first in longhand and do my first edits during transcription into the computer. I don't have any standard formula. Some stories grow faster than others. I edit until I'm satisfied, making sure I read it aloud to help catch any rough areas, then let the story sit for a month or two. In this time I begin writing something new and verify that my facts are correct. Then I go back and begin to edit it more. I keep doing this until my edits consist of maybe changing a word or two here or there. I could edit edit forever...so have to draw the line somewhere.

When I think my project is ready for publishing, I do another read-through aloud, let it sit for a few more weeks, and read it through yet again.

I've had some books written and published in less than a year while others have taken a couple of decades. Each one is an individual and must be treated that way, in my opinion.


message 31: by Courtney (new)

Courtney Wells | 138 comments Jenycka - sorry for not replying sooner.

ATM it looks like my book is dark fantasy/horror and I'm aiming towards a YA readership but - depending on how dark I go - might have to consider NA.

I don't know. It's not going to have sex or swearing but it does have some creepy/disturbing imagery and themes dealing in dysfunctional relationships and mature implications (nothing shown, more inferred). I'll have to see how "indecent" those are, I guess :)


message 32: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Siegrist (amandasiegrist) | 190 comments I start by an idea in my head, sit down at the computer and start typing. From there the story just comes out. My first book I put out, I wrote that fairly quickly and the rest of the time was editing and fixing it here and there. My other two books that aren't out yet, I stopped here and there, taking breaks trying to figure out where to go with it. They are mystery though compared to other one which is contemporary romance. It takes more time for me to figure out how I want to dole out a twist here and there, who's my killer (because sometimes I'm killing people in my book and have no idea who the killer is myself yet), and generally developing a crime story as I go. I write romance though, but I switch it up from contemporary, to murder/mystery, and even working on a fantasy book. My fantasy book is nowhere near completed and I find myself going back to it here and there, but I think that one will take me forever to complete because it's very involved. A lot of characters and things going on. But if an idea hits me and just flows nicely out of me, I would say (without other distractions popping up) I can get it out with a month or two. That doesn't include the editing, just the first draft.


message 33: by Iffix (new)

Iffix Santaph | 324 comments I often refer to myself as a "pantser", which means that I go into the writing of a story with a basic premise and a blindfold and see what happens. Free writing is a whole lot of fun. (I do respect anyone who takes so long to outline their stories. It's just never really worked for me.) Writing chaotically has worked for me for years. But yes, I back up, even work on other projects for a while, before returning to edit.
Generally, I strive to have a novel written in its entirety by 6 months, and proofed by 9 months. Sometimes, I'm feeling more like an editor than a writer, so I go back and look at things. And sometimes an idea occurs to me after I've written something else and a slight tweak might add to the awesomeness, so I take a few days to straighten things out before I continue.


message 34: by Rachael (last edited Apr 23, 2015 11:12PM) (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 192 comments I start off with the premise, characters etc. - typically I'll keep a file of notes to hand so I can consult it. Often I come up with new ideas as I go along, and throw those in. Sometimes those have had the affect of dramatically altering the story - for example, the ending of my first book was rather more conventional, until somebody suggested the current warped outcome. I also didn't add the framing device until later on.

The writing period is hugely variable - I go with what feels like the natural length. Once that's done, I take about six months to edit it. I get my other half and one other person who's kept out of it to read it, and act on any last minute suggestions.


back to top