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An Update On Writing My First Novel


Let me start by saying thank you to those of you who have signed up as subscribers to the blog. I apologize that I haven't kept it updated. I hope to change that starting now.


I'm not quite sure what form that will take. I enjoy poking around the publishing world. So, I'll probably share some of the people I encounter along the way. Other writers, literary agents, tips and tricks.


The world has changed a lot since I first wrote on Draft To Novel. It's scary to think how much, honestly. Back then, had we even heard of the coronavirus? I either hadn't or it was just some little thing going on in China.


I hope you and your loved ones have been fortunate enough not to meet COVID-19 up close. It's just hard to fathom that 120,000 Americans have died from it and that, as of this writing, it's spreading again like wildfire through the south and other parts of the country.


Stay safe, please, everyone.


Now onto my writing life. I'm actually thrilled to say I've written 62,000 words on my Work In Progress -- Justice For Max (that's the working title anyway). It's in the suspense/thriller genre. I've decided to shoot for 85,000 words instead of 100,000.


The reason is something I discovered while following the excellent video blog of Jessica Faust at BookEnds Literary Agency.


Jessica did a post on word counts and what an appropriate range is for popular genres. While I had a basic idea, I didn't know the rules are a little different for debut authors. Understandably, traditional publishers want shorter works from unknown commodities. Essentially, it's a little less risk for them and saves them money on an author who may crash and burn.


For suspense/thrillers, 80,000 - 90,000 is the sweet spot, according to Jessica. So, I'm aiming for the middle and will be happy if I end up a little under or over that number.


I feel like I'm pretty much on track. I've relied a lot, indirectly, on the coaching of James Scott Bell. I discovered Jim's books on fiction writing years ago and they helped me get a handle on the there three-act structure. If you like audiobooks, his "How To Write Best-Selling Fiction" is worth the listen. It's presented as a series of lectures that help build your knowledge of the craft from the ground up.


For me, it was a good refresher and helped when I finally started putting words down on paper. According to Bell, the beginning of Act 3 should start with about 10-15 percent of your manuscript remaining. That means I'll need to cross over from Act 2 to 3 between 72,000 to 76,000 word range.


I've been pretty consistent and churning out 2,500 - 3,000 words per week. I should get to Act 3 in about a month. I'm hoping to close strong and fast.


I've hired an editor off of Reedsy and am due to turn in the manuscript to her on September 8 for a developmental edit. I would like to have a couple of weeks before that to edit myself and perhaps do a little rewriting.


That's it for now. I promise it won't be another six months before I write another post.

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