I made a few changes to my outline and got the ok to proceed on the actual text for The Gray Shift from my editor at the end of last year. The current outline (v4 to my editor, Rev 08 by my internal “story iteration” numbering scheme) is 21,695 words long and covers 40 chapters.
I am in the midst of writing the first draft of the full book now. Right now I’ve got 7 chapters out of 40 written (~17.5% complete) and I’m aiming for 2 chapters per day when I focus on writing. At this rate it should take me about 3-4 more weeks to finish this first draft.
One issue that came up when I started calculating how many words I actually need to write is that this book may turn out to be a bit longer than I was aiming for. A typical chapter has between 3,000-5,000 words per chapter. Full Coverage has 47,720 words spread over 17 chapters, an average of 2,807 words per chapter. If I kept that same average for this book I’d wind up with a 112,280 word book that would be around 470 pages long. That’s a bit longer than I want, which is to be in the 80k-100k word range for a 350-400 page book. To try and keep the overall length down each individual chapter will probably be closer to 2,000 words each. That should hopefully keep the pace fast even though there are more than twice as many chapters in The Gray Shift as were in my first book.
Right now the seven chapters in this first draft average out to 1,331 words each. I’m keeping it pretty thin on detailed descriptions for this first time around just to get the entire thing down and then I’ll flesh it out with more details and better descriptions of the smells/sights/sounds/sensations as I go back through and edit it. I tend to add stuff each time I go back and edit something so hitting ~2,000 words per chapter in the next two passes shouldn’t be a problem.
So far I’m averaging a speed of 1,119.05 words per hour, so I can get a decent chunk of text done in a full day. If I stay at my current 1,331 words/chapter average that comes out to 43,923 words left to write for my crappy first draft, which is about 39.25 hours of actual dedicated writing time to finish this first draft.
Once that first draft is done, I’ll go back through it twice to edit it. I usually edit faster than I write but since I’ll be filling in placeholders and descriptions these first two times I’ll assume I stick to the same speed. If the target length is between 80k-100k words long, that should take between 71.5-89.4hrs each. That gives me around 218 hours of work to do before I’m ready to send a draft out to my editor and my beta readers. It’s not a short amount of time, but it’s a finite one and I have an auto-updating Excel sheet to track all this so my estimates will get better and the time to edit should get shorter with each pass.
In Summary, here are the next steps:
- First Draft: ~39.25 hours to go
- Second Draft: ~89.4 hours to go
- Third Draft: ~89.4 hours to go
- Send Out Third Draft to Editor and to Beta Readers!
- While Editor and Beta Readers are Reading:
- Make Cover Art
- First Draft of Outline for The Unsettled Compromise (the sequel to The Gray Shift)
My best guess right now is that I’ll have a third draft edit ready for my editor an beta readers sometime in April. It’s not very soon, but it’s not super far away either. 😱 I’m slowly getting there!