|Graph from Pacemaker|
PARALLAX, book 4 of my Halcyone Space series is done. The first draft came in at a little over 105,000 words, making it the longest of the 4, by a little bit. It represents my 12th full novel written since I started drafting my first (knowing next to nothing about writing a novel!) in 2004.
In the past dozen years, I estimate that I've written over a million words of fiction and over a million words of non-fiction. I can look back and definitely say I have a consistent process and work style that has evolved over time to where I can reliably finish a solid draft of a novel in 4-6 months.
PARALLAX was the first project where I tracked my daily writing. The graph is at the head of this post. While it appears as if the book took 240 days to write, in reality, I didn't start working on the draft in earnest until the very end of July, and that brings the real work to 140 days, or just under 5 months.
I typically start a project with a few trial scenes that help me focus into the world of the characters and some broad-brush outlining. That essential planning happened over the course of a week or so in April, after which I let the draft sit while I was organizing the release of DREADNOUGHT AND SHUTTLE.
There were definitely some added challenges in working on this one: My cast of main characters had increased to seven and with the progressive complexity of the politics in the world, I knew the story had to keep pace. My faithful crew ended up being dispersed in different parts of the cosmos, each of them seeing a part of the conflict from their unique perspectives. My job was to weave all those separate plots back together into a cohesive whole.
Perhaps the hardest part of writing PARALLAX was keeping track of who knew what when. I found myself constantly reading back, only to find that I had given a character knowledge they couldn't have learned. While I'm one of those writers who gleefully breaks the 'no editing during the drafting process' rule, there was a lot more revising and backtracking during the writing of this one.
So what comes next? My 'alpha' readers include my sons and my husband. They are willing to get a story with all sorts of parenthetical notes, like [NEED PLANET NAME HERE] and [CHECK THIS]. They will keep me from inflicting obvious errors on my wonderful beta readers, who will get the first revised manuscript in another few weeks.
Then, when I get their feedback, I do another round of revisions, then a round of basic line editing before it goes to my wonderful editor Karen Conlin in April.
I'm on track to have the book ready for publication in June or July of 2017.
Oh, and here's a draft of the 'elevator pitch':
PARALLAX (Halcyone Space, book 4): Halcyone's crew is drawn into a conspiracy threatening to reignite a galactic war when they discover the hidden power brokers who have been quietly manipulating the Commonwealth for decades.