Sunday, June 29, 2008

From idea to book

When I first began putting fingers to the laptop to write a fiction manuscript (after writing seven non-fiction books) I never thought I would make it this far. But last night I hit the fifty thousand word milestone, actually 50004 words if you want to split hairs. I could have kept writing, but where I was, presented me with strict time limits preventing me from doing so. (Between the lines, that reads as I finished my shift at work).

When I wrote my non-fiction books, I basically kept writing until I came to an acceptable amount of information. The three commissioned books had a strict word count that was easily achievable. River of Blood went overboard a little. I had a publishing contract and promised the book to them by a certain date. I extended the timeline twice as I kept writing. When I gave the final book to the publishers, they panicked as the book near the epic level of nigh on 100,000 words.

Alas, my next book, Loss of Innocence, is sitting at 90,000 words, but I have begun editing that in an attempt to get that count down a little. Predators is not finished so it's word count is still ongoing. All three of the bigger books were chapter based meaning it was easy to divide and conquer when tackling the projects.

Then I decided to write my first fiction book. I couldn't write it in the same way I had written my others. This was one story, one case that had to fill the pages of one book. I had to develop real, solid characters, I had to build a story line with twists and turns, that also had a believable ending.

The task seemed doomed to fail from the beginning, it seemed extremely daunting to me, but like my other books, I decided the easiest way was to divide and conquer. My story plan was set out as chapter outlines. Then I waited. I waited to have the chapters come to me, I saw them in my mind's eye complete and ready to write down.

Page by page I typed away madly, deleting parts of the story, adding other twists and turns as ideas filtered through. As the book began to take shape I decided to research how long a fiction manuscript should be.

I came across a few really good writing sites who all agreed under 50,000 was a novella, above 100,000 was an Epic. Between 50,000 and 100,000 a good sized fiction makes. So there my first milestone was placed. I had to make my book more than 50k words. I was to celebrate this milestone when it popped up.

On MS Vista on my home laptop the word count updated constantly as I typed. Yesterday I watched the words click over closer and closer to the magic mark. Then last night while at work, a whole scene hit me. I began madly bashing away at the old keyboard getting closer and closer, yet I had to manually do a word count on the older Word version I had.

Click - 50,004! I did it. I made it! From now on, I was writing a book, not a novella, not a short story, not a failed attempt at crime fiction, but my first fiction novel. I had a warm fuzzy glow from my success - though it may have also been from the bottle of red I shared with my partner to celebrate the milestone.

Well now it is time to finish the book and ship it off to agents and publishers. I have held off on writing the ending. Though I have written the book out of sequence, I know I want to write the ending last. I look forward to typing the last word and sitting back with a sense of self satisfaction.

Thanks for coming along on the journey with me.
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