My Next Writing Project: Starting the Second Draft of the Novel

Tomorrow, I will start writing the second draft of the novel I wrote last year. As a brief recap: I started writing the novel last February, without actually knowing I was writing a novel. I wrote the story with some fits and starts until it finally caught, and then continued to write, finishing the first draft in mid-September. It was the first novel draft I ever completed. It came in at 95,000 words.

I took a few months off to write short stories, and during that time, I wrote 3 complete stories, one of which I subsequently sold, and a fourth story, a novella, which I’ve been working on ever since. Also during that time, I wrote several pieces of nonfiction.

Beginning in December, I started to re-read the novel I wrote, going through it slowly and deliberately, and taking a lot of notes. By the time I’d finished that re-read, I had accumulated around 15,000 words worth of notes. I had originally intended to start on the second draft back in December, but I was working on other things, and spring really seems like the right time to start on something new. And so, tomorrow, I’ll begin writing the second draft of the novel.

One good thing about having all of the writing data that I’ve captured is that it makes it fairly easy to predict when I’ll finish a project like this. Over the course of the last 409 days, I’ve averaged 834 words of fiction per day. Using that number, and assuming the novel will come in at around 90,000 words, you get 108 days, which, if I start tomorrow, means I’ll finish on July 30, 2014.

This assumes that I will write every day, which is a safe assumption. As of today, I have written for 264 consecutive days, and 407 out of the last 409 days.

Still, I’ll add a two week buffer to that July 30 date, since I may write some nonfiction articles during that time, and that buffer puts me at about August 15, 2014.

That said, the draft could be done sooner for two reasons:

First, during the time I was working on the first draft, I average 910 words/day, somewhat higher than my overall average. The 910 words/day brings things closer to 99 days, or July 21.

Second, while writing the first draft, I didn’t really know the story. I don’t work from an outline. I thought I knew how the story would end, and just figured it out as I went along. This has become my usual process for first drafts. For second drafts, I’ve now told myself the story, and I know what the story is about. Second drafts are always complete rewrites for me. I am trying to take what I did in the first draft and make it interesting for readers. The first draft, therefore, becomes an outline of sorts, along with the notes that I took on reading the draft. Armed with that knowledge, I think it will be easier to get through each day’s worth of writing because I’ll actually know what I’ll be writing about, instead of sitting around trying to figure it out.

This latter is just a guess on my part, as I’ve never written the second draft of a novel before, but it works for me in short fiction, and so far, I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work here.

So, if you’re a betting person, it would be a safe bet to say that I’ll finish the draft between July 21 and July 30. It will be interesting to see how close I really come to that.

I’ve gotten a few questions regarding what the novel is about. While I discuss my writing here, you’ve probably noticed I discuss process more than content. That is by design. I’ve learned that talking about what I write dulls the writing. If I don’t talk about it, I enjoy writing the story that much more. That said, the story is far future science fiction. If you are interested in a little more detail, you can listen to the interview I did with Brent Bowen on the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing podcast, where I revealed a little more detail.

If you’re interested in more than that, you’ll have to wait for the book to come out–which is a roll of the dice, since there’s absolutely no guarantee I’ll sell it.

In any case, this is what I will be living and breathing for the next 100 days or so.


  1. Looking forward to hearing progress on the novel. Are you thinking to make it part of a series? Or will this be a singleton?

    1. Right now, it is standalone. It is enough for me to figure out one novel without having to worry about many. Besides, I have grown tired of series, both in novels, movies and television. I adore standalones. So we’ll see. 🙂


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