If you follow me on IG then you may well be aware that I have recently been giving my writing plans, in fact, my whole writing approach, some considerable thought.
At the beginning of the year, my writing plan was pretty simple. I wanted to increase my writing speed. To do so I first wanted to finish and publish (to Wattpad) Something in the Woodshed, the second in my Paranormal Investigation series featuring larger than life Theophilius Gout and his apprentice Clementine Trussell. Then I wanted to write a short novel (first draft) of about 60k words in about 3 months. I also wanted to write two more Trussel and Gout stories by the end of the year. Finally, I would go back to the first draft I completed last year, Castle Blackwood: The Lord of Misrule, and edit.
My plans have changed a little. After a fair bit of research, I have realised how crazy fast indie authors are publishing work. Full novels in a matter of weeks!
If them, why not I?
I want to work on my speed, but why not publish what I produce? What’s the worst that can happen? Well, public humiliation, obviously… But
Doing my research I have realised that, yes, people make mistakes, but you know what? People keep buying their books anyway!
I have three series potential ideas.
- TRUSSEL AND GOUT PARANORMAL DETECTIVE MYSTERIES
- 1920s-1930s FANTASY NOIR NOVELS
- CYBERPUNK PI STORIES (I’m keeping the name for these under my hat because frankly, I think it’s genius! XD)
After research, I think it’s worth exploring all three series and seeing if any sell. Write one or two before committing any more time to them and see how they do.
Novels in the genres I’m looking at, especially cosy, seem to be short on Amazon. 40-65k words. I’ve also seen short stories appear to sell well (not many, but some). I could go super short (20k) as a sort of tester? Or I could ramp it up to 40k? Still short but a bit more usual. Then release on to Amazon and AU. Probably won’t go wide right now, it’s just simpler and I want this to be an experiment, not some huge long project.
So… Speed is still the thing. If a story does take off, well I want to be able to get out the next instalment pretty damn quick!
If I can consistently write 2k a day I can produce a 40k first draft in 20 days. 10 days for 20k. That’s a big IF of course. But I’ve been researching speed writing and I think I can do it. It will be ugly, but I think I now understand the value of ugly first drafts. I’ll then need time to edit, and that’s the unknown bit really. But an optimistic goal of 2 months to finish a short novel might be possible.
The next big thing is editing and cover design. Do I listen to the perceived wisdom: pay for editing and a decent cover. Or do I listen to the indies: do it yourself if that’s all you can afford right now. Then upgrade later if you make money.
That option goes against the grain! But I can see the logic. And if this is to be an experiment then it makes even more sense. I’ve also seen professionally edited manuscripts with a host of issues anyway. I think what I’ll do is pay for editing software like scrivener etc… to catch as much as I can myself, then send it out to betas. I can pay for proper editing if and when a series takes off. It’s the minimal viable product idea.
The only question remaining is would I use a pen name to avoid embarrassment if it’s awful? I don’t want to ruin my personal brand. But if it does take off, I also don’t want to get stuck with a nom de plume when I’d rather just be me. Something to consider.
All of this still hinges on writing speed! If I can’t consistently write at least 2k a day this won’t work. So that is what I need to work on. How will I do it?
So far I have done several five-minute writing sprints across a few days. It would seem that right now I can write about 150 words in five minutes, on average. Perhaps a little more. That works out at 1800 words in an hour. I know that I can do this, but it’s not been consistent in the past by any means.
Obviously, some people write many, many times faster than this. If I get there, great! But for now, I think 2k an hour is a good goal. It means if I write for an hour a day I can finish the first draft of a 40k book in 20 days.
So how to do this? I think writing sprints might be the key, so I need to continue to experiment with those. Five mins are most likely too short to go much further with. I’d have to try and fit in twelve a day which could get tricky! Even ten mins means doing six a day. I think twenty-thirty minutes should be my aim for now. But I will have to see how the concentration holds out and find my sweet spot.
I seem to slow dramatically when I haven’t plotted enough, so full-on, detailed plotting seems the way to go (literally blow by blow through each scene. That’s almost the first draft in itself.) The time it takes to do this will also have to be taken into consideration.
I have, historically, been a pretty slow writer, so I’m asking for a lot of myself here. But I’ve seen that it’s possible!
As this is to be an experiment I like the idea of varying length across the different series to see what happens. Perhaps 20k for Trussel and Gout, then 40k for one of the others and 60k for the remaining?
The next subject to consider is writing to market. It seems a good idea, but just how far should I take it? Do I mold Trussel and Gout into a cosy murder mystery? It’s almost there but should I make alterations to better fit the norms of this genre, or leave it as it is? The sc-fi idea I have is clearly cyberpunk, so not so hard, but it’s also pi/mystery as well, of which I didn’t see a whole lot in that category. Is that OK? Finally the 1900s books. What genre are they?! Do I remove the fantasy elements and make them historical mysteries? Or turn it into alternate history fantasy? Or just call it fantasy and be done?
I think I’m inclined to just write what I want, but to keep half a mind on genre. Make small alterations to fit, but nothing huge. If none work the next series I’ll try doing strictly to genre!
So what’s my first step?
I need to plot some stories, so I can get my writing speed up. But which series do I focus on?
All three will require “reader magnet” episodes to give away for free. I have The Pig in the Derby Hat, but it’s too much of an opener to be a side thing. So I will treat that as episode one, sell it for free, or 99p. Then I have Something in the Woodshed, the nearly completed second Trussel and Gout adventure, which is around 20k. I could sell that for 99p or £1.99. This means I need to finish that and write some sort of prequel/side story to give away as a reader magnet.
The obvious starting point is to finish something in the woodshed. But I’ve had so many issues with it I’m tempted to try to speed write a brand new one first.
As for the other two series: I have opener book ideas for both that require proper plotting. Then I will need to think of prequels. These can be a step shorter for each if required, eg. 40k down to 20k, or 60k down to 40k.
I need to plot series arks for all three series to see where I’m headed. This will all be essential if I am to keep up the speed.
So, I return to the central question: What to do first!?
The most important thing is to practice speed writing. But I need plots! So, I will first plot a brand new Trussel and Gout story. I will also look at creating a series outline. Once those are done I will practice speed writing with this one. Meanwhile, I can be plotting in the other two series.
So, the next two things to write I think will be Trussel and Gout 3 (20k) and then a prequel /side story (10k). Meanwhile, I’ll need to finish Something in the Woodshed. Yes, that direction does take me away from traditional modern cosy, but I’m going to stick to the series I wanted to write and hope it finds its audience.
If I can keep my speed at 2k a day, I will have both of those done by the end of April (that’s a big ask, but I can try!)
I wrote the majority of this rambling post several days ago, mostly as a way yo get my though processes straight. If you’ve read this far, then thank you for taking an interest! And it might interest you to know that so far I have consistently managed to write 500 words in twenty min sprints. I have also managed to write 2k a day for the last two days. I’ll let everyone know if I mange to keep it up! Let me know what you think of my plan. Think i’m nuts? Tell me why! I’d love to hear your thoughts.