Two years ago, I decided (and publicly announced) that I’d finish the first draft of a novel in 2016. I’m well on track to making that a reality. Not only have I studied the craft and practiced writing for thousands of hours (I’ve been working towards this goal since 2012), but I’ve also taken several large strides of improvement after working with a critique group and an editor for the past 10 months.
This is my last Development Diary of 2015 and I’d like to take a moment to review my progress so far. I planned to be where I am, but a lot of where I am is an unplanned, but a pleasant surprise.
2015’s Development Diaries
In January, I wrote my first Development Diary. This image-rich dive into my world building talked about one of the settings the SOPC world.
February’s Diary talked about my characters and their personal struggles.
In March, I shared some more artwork and talked about the land of Ghaya.
In April’s Diary, I returned to February’s theme of character conflicts.
May’s Development Diary was very special to me. It was the first time I put a face to my characters with some great artwork.
My story continued to expand in June’s Dev Diary when I talked about more character development and conflict.
In July, I began my first editing pass and I talked about how it affected my story and my process. Read about it here.
More artwork came with August. I showed off the SOPC world map and talked about how I moved it from a vague idea to reality.
In September’s Dairy, I shared some of the language of the SOPC world and how I’m using it to improve my dialog.
Development Diary #10 focused on my short story First Blood that takes place in the SOPC world and features one of my main characters.
And in November’s Dev Diary, I rounded off the year with one more piece of art: a rough sketch for an animal that exists only in the SOPC world.
Where I Am Now
My word count spreadsheet is always in flux these days because I’m simultaneously editing a few parts while drafting new pieces. Because of this, I don’t have an exact word count.
It’s times like these, I wish I did my first draft in a program like Scrivener, but that one benefit doesn’t outweigh why I’ve chosen to draft outside of that wonderful program (If you’re a writer and you don’t know about Scrivener, you’re really missing out! Look it up!).
That said, I have about 100k words of my current manuscript drafted and I’ve just barely passed the halfway mark.
For those who don’t know how long that is: It’s about 400 paperback book pages if the font is on the larger side, and 285 pages if the font’s on the smaller side (It’s funny how font size can make that big of a difference.).
The average novel is about 80k words. J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is about 187k words. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger is about 73k words.
I’ve studied and read several books on increasing my speed with writing. I’m not the fastest typer, but that’s not my issue. My issues revolve around putting processes and habits in place that allow me to achieve story flow as quickly as possible, and to stay in that state for as long as possible. When I’m in that state, I write my fastest.
Since I’ve begun, I’ve fine-tuned my process to what it is today. I still have more work to do on this front, but that’ll come with time and hard work. I’m getting faster everyday. And once I finish this project, I’m confident the next will start with, and maintain, an even faster pace.
Since I began writing Dev Diaries, I’ve partnered with a brilliant editor who’s working with me to make sure the story is polished and ready for the world. Partnering with her has required me to backtrack a bit, but I actually needed that so that I could move forward without having to rewrite vast passages in the story. She also helped me polish First Blood so that I could share a small bit of the world I’m working on.
I’ve also worked with several talented artists to do some of the extended world building pieces. Artwork is a big part of this project. Star Wars is one of my great inspirations. I loved how much world building went into making its universe much larger than the original movie implied alone. I’m working with one artist repeatedly at this point, and he’s behind all of my recent artwork.
What’s Coming in 2016
As I’ve mentioned above, getting to this point was more than just sitting down and writing the story. It was spending thousands of hours practicing and honing my storytelling skills. I really wanted to do this right, so I put in the time to educate myself so that I didn’t spend 10 years stumbling around in the dark only to produce a story that wasn’t very good.
I’ve wanted to create this since I was a young teen, and I’m giving it my very best shot by going far above and beyond what I see most authors attempting. This is how I hope to stand out in a world of writers with much more firepower than I have.
2016 is the year I announced that I’d complete a first draft. So far, I’ve done well in calling my shot. I still plan to complete the first draft my story by this time. I also plan to release a few more short stories during this time. Most, if not all, will be set in the universe I’ve built.
I will also begin drafting my first extended universe novel in 2016.
Yes, on top of creating a primary storyline, this world will have many different stories that occur at different time periods and different places with new and old characters. I spent a lot of time building out the SOPC world’s history, cultures, and settings in order to support a primary story and any other extended stories I wanted to toss into the mix.
The wonderful thing about doing these extended universe novels is that I’ll have a chance to show you more cultures and fantastic settings that the primary series won’t be able to show you without veering wildly off course.
I have several extended universe novels and stories at various stages of development. I can’t talk a lot about them right now because they’re still in the incubator. But as soon as they’ve grown enough to share with the world, I’ll begin giving you tastes of what they have to offer.
More artwork and snippets of world building will also be coming in 2016 Development Diaries. I can’t wait to show you more of what I’ve built in order for this vision to come to life.
I want to thank everyone who’s joined me on this journey. It has been long, hard, and filled with highs and lows, and I fully expect it to continue this way for some time. But I don’t regret taking this path. I never regret pursuing a dream, no matter where it leads me.
I especially want to thank my Founders. They’ve put their faith in my abilities and I can’t thank them enough for it. 10,000 highfives to you guys!
What About You?
I hope you’re excited about what I have coming up.
I’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment, and let me know.
And the Founders program is still open! But it won’t be forever. Join up if you want to receive all my stories completely free, as long as I’m creating them (which will be a very long time).
There are no conditions to joining. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy.
When I released my story First Blood, my Founders were the first to know about it. They received special access to my Founder’s Library where they can download all my stories for free, whenever and however they choose. And they paid nothing for it (unless you count their support).
Some come join us! We’d love to have you!