ALEX VAN HELSING #1-- this book is due on July 20. I wrote the first draft over a couple of months, using a schedule that required steady work but no more than two or three hours of a writing night, and only a few nights a week. The trick is to schedule it and get it done. I tend to use a writing strategy I call "Astronaut," after the old adage than an astronaut solves problems by taking the time he or she has and parceling it out in a plan. I shorten "Astronaut" into the adage: if you're out of time, schedule it.
So I scheduled the first draft of Alex Van Helsing carefully-- first in a bulleted outline, then an Excel Document outline. Excel outlines are useful because you can set up a column showing whether you've completed the chapter or section. I also set up a reverse counter indicating how long the manuscript was in draft form.
I have a first draft of the novel completed and after taking a few days off, for the last few nights I've been slowly going through the draft the old-fashioned way, with an enormous printout and a pen. The basic progress (I wrote this down recently) goes like this-- I really don't look at the first draft much until I have the whole thing done, then I do a lot of reading:
- a quick read-through to catch big mistakes
- another to start adding in missing scenes ("pickup scenes") that establish certain things you may have forgotten to establish
- another to really fix up sentences and sometimes perform major surgery, removing scenes or changing descriptions, or making some major change, like changes of locale or removing/adding subplots. If I decide Alex has a fixation on mermaids (he doesn't) then that must pepper his speech-- a change like that has ripples all through the book.
Meanwhile, I notice MTV has an article up on the new "Nazi Kill Calculator" in Wolfenstein, a game I was a consulting writer on. I did some dialog punch-ups as a deep, deep fan of this series, so naturally I'm very excited.