Alright, time for me to peek in on my blog again. This is starting to become a monthly tradition… or maybe that’s quarterly.
Even if I’m not writing on my blog, though, I am doing some writing.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally finished my fan fiction. Mind you, this was just something I was playing around with while I was in the process of moving and couldn’t devote myself to my regular work. My motivation was to see if I could write a game—complete with background story, character development, weapons, dungeons, bosses, etc.
Conclusion? Why yes, I can write a game (provided said game broke the mold and was a two-player interface instead of a solo player).
Things I learned in the process:
- Writing an entire game by yourself is harder than you would think. I didn’t have a problem with developing a storyline, but coming up with different weapons and bosses was hard. And we won’t even get into how to make mazes. I stand in awe of the maze developers.
- You have to plot adventures. This is really important, as you need to know what people and things you will need later. For example, weapons are often introduced before they’re needed—or they might be needed multiple times.
- Even when I have a plot, I still “pants.” I found writing just to a plot was rather restricting (suffocating, even)—especially as I came up with good ideas along the way. So, what happened in actuality, was that I pantsed between (and sometimes in the middle of) plotted chapters.
- When you simultaneously pants and plot, you end up with twice as much product as you intended.
How much product, you ask?
Originally, I plotted 50 chapters—certainly a respectable amount when you consider that my shortest chapters were around 1,200 words, and major chapters—dungeons and bosses—could have as many as 8,000-12,000 words.
The reality? This story clocks in at 114 chapters and 459,339 words.
Let that sink in for a minute. Acceptance, which is, according to industry standards, a bit on the long side for a first novel—even one that’s urban fantasy—has approximately 109,000 words.
My fanfic is a little longer than four Acceptance novels—or, in other words, as long as the entire planned series.
The Flames of Prague, which is long even to historical fiction standards, is roughly 80,000 words. It would take nearly six of those to equal this one fan fiction.
It took me right at a year and a half to write it. That means I averaged 25,519 words per month—or roughly half the speed you work during a NaNo month—only this lasted 18 consecutive months.
I’m not disappointed by those figures. If I applied that same work ethic to my new stuff, then I could turn out a historical fiction novel roughly every three months. (Of course it’s not the writing part that’s really time-consuming; it’s the editing. Editing takes two or three times longer than the initial writing, I’ve found.)
Maybe one of these days I can afford to hire an editor/proofreader to do that heavy lifting and I can put more of my effort into writing new stuff. Just in the last year, I’ve come up with two more ideas for historical novels (I’m loathe to call one a romance, since the lovers will die at the end). That makes a grand total of three historical romance novels waiting in the production line, not counting the sequel to Flames, a potential sequel to the sequel, or any of the Acceptance series (of which there are three more to go, plus an estimated 3 prequels).
I don’t have to worry about widespread writer’s block any time soon; I have enough to keep me busy for some years.
Now that my fanfic is done, I plan on turning back to The Flames of Prague. It’s had a major edit already, and I’ve handwritten the secondary edit; I just need to get those corrections typed up. Then it will need to undergo several rounds of proofreading. I’m hopeful that I can get it out by the end of the year.
I also plan on picking up The Bloodsuckers again. I’m not sure if I want to commit to one episode a week again. That has its benefits—in that it prevents procrastination, and desperation can shake all sorts of things loose—but it also its drawbacks in that it forces smaller episodes and more filler. My fan fiction was written as a serial novel, but I rarely did one chapter a week; it was more like one chapter every 2-3 weeks. This allowed me to make longer chapters (something a lot of people have complained about with Bloodsuckers). Another thing is that the quality of writing seems better in my fanfic. This could be because practice makes perfect (if you’ve got one million words of crap in you, then I just sloughed about half of that; including the other stuff I’ve written, I’ve passed the one million word mark), but it could also be that I took more time with my fanfic; I didn’t feel the need to hurry things along until the very end, when I just got tired of it and was ready to move on to other things.
I think I might try plotting some of The Bloodsuckers, too, because I want it to take a darker and more adventurous turn. Plotting will allow me to set up some situations and characters that will come into play in the future. It will also help me avoid sitting at a blank computer screen and wondering what in the world I’m going to do next. When in doubt, follow the plot. But if I want to go off-script a little, too, there’s room for that.
Just as my fan fiction started with a challenge—to see if I could write a video game—The Bloodsuckers originally started with a challenge, too: to see if I could write a serial novel of equivalent size and scope as Varney the Vampire. My fan fiction has proven that I can lay down some serious wordage when I want to (although it’s still nearly 200,000 words short of old Varney), so it’s not a matter of if, but of when.
And, to that end, expect to see a new episode shortly.