PDA

View Full Version : What's the shortest time it took you to write a novel?



KikiteNeko
05-14-2008, 11:32 PM
What's the shortest amount of time it took you to write an entire novel in terms of weeks/months/years, and what was the word count? You can include how much time it took you to revise it after it was finished, or just tell me how long it took to write your first draft, whatever.

ChaosTitan
05-14-2008, 11:36 PM
Shortest first draft: seven weeks, 98k words.

I haven't done any serious edits yet, because it's a sequel to another novel. The first has gone through multiple rewrites since both were written, so if any ever comes of it, the sequel will need quite the re-working.

SPMiller
05-14-2008, 11:39 PM
First novel: just under six months, about 75K words by MS Word's count.

And technically it was a second draft because I wrote it out by hand first and then rewrote/revised the text into an RTF document, day by day.

Bartholomew
05-14-2008, 11:55 PM
One summer. It was a really crappy novel, though. :)

stormie
05-14-2008, 11:59 PM
First draft--seven months, 55,000 words (YA). I was revising as I went along.

triceretops
05-15-2008, 12:16 AM
Eight weeks--110,000 words. That was full time and without interuptions. Editing took three weeks after that.

Tri

DWSTXS
05-15-2008, 12:36 AM
12 months - but I wrote long - 240k words, and I've taken 6 months for the edit re-write, and now I'm almost finished, and it will end up at 125k

JamieFord
05-15-2008, 12:43 AM
3 months - 84,000 words.

KTC
05-15-2008, 12:44 AM
I wrote one in 40 hours, minus about 2-3 hours for sleep time and food breaks throughout. It was approx. 40K. I also wrote a 45K novella in about 36 hours a couple years ago... it was over a 48hour span, minus overnight and travel time to and from the marathon. I'll say the shortest time was about 35 hours... roughly. If you want more accurate, I'll stop watch my marathon this coming July and get back to you. (-;

tehuti88
05-15-2008, 12:47 AM
About two months I think, and I believe it was 75,000 words. That was only because I outlined it ahead of time.

Nowadays I don't outline, and it takes me a few years to write things, but now I'm speaking of serials that go on for hundreds of thousands of words, so...

Harper K
05-15-2008, 12:50 AM
95K words in a month and a half. It was summer, and I was a 16-year-old with a part-time desk job, so I basically had all the time in the world.

Twelve years later, it's still unrevised. And will stay that way forever.

bethany
05-15-2008, 12:50 AM
6 weeks. 55k. Called Handcuffs (YA). :D

Phaeal
05-15-2008, 01:05 AM
Two and a half months for a 132,000 word first draft. Two months into the second draft notes and rewrite now.

LloydBrown
05-15-2008, 01:18 AM
My first: six weeks, 90k words.

Please God, it'll never see the light of day.

HeronW
05-15-2008, 01:22 AM
2nd in the series took about 7 months 90k+

Perks
05-15-2008, 02:47 AM
It took me three months to write the first draft of my first novel. It was, of course, utter shit.

I'm not a terribly fast writer. Sometimes I'm pathetically slow.

Devil Ledbetter
05-15-2008, 02:51 AM
I did Nano in 28 or 29 days. (You said novel, you didn't say good novel.;))

Saanen
05-15-2008, 03:10 AM
Nano for me too, 30 days = 50,000 words and a complete manuscript. (Actually I've done Nano three times--I'm just thinking about last year's.) It took me probably another month to do the revisions, during which I added about 10,000 words. I'm pretty happy with the result, actually, and it's just started making the rounds now. :)

DamaNegra
05-15-2008, 03:32 AM
My NaNo novel. Exactly one month, 65k.

L M Ashton
05-15-2008, 05:24 AM
88k words in 2 1/2 weeks. It's currently in editing and, for the record, the first draft was pretty decent. :)

Matera the Mad
05-15-2008, 05:43 AM
I recall doing a short one, 50,000+, in somewhat less than two months. It was the first I ever finished, big landmark. Fanfic :tongue

I whanged out one near twice that size in four. I was in obsession mode and polishing a bit as I went. I'm not really fast, I was unemployed.

KikiteNeko
05-15-2008, 06:59 PM
Wow, guys. I thought I was ambitious and being unrealistic to think I could write a 75K novel in three or four months, but that's seeming more and more possible now! Thanks!

sheadakota
05-15-2008, 07:38 PM
3 weeks- it was nano as well- but it has taken me 2 years to edit and polish it- I am currently waiting to hear from an agency on it. They have the full.

inthecards
05-15-2008, 07:40 PM
First draft 100 days, 197k words, rewrite time is much longer.

jennontheisland
05-15-2008, 07:50 PM
It's been just about 2 years and I'm still working on the first.

IN my own defence...it's the first, and I just starte writing. I had an opening scene and that was it. I only figured out the full plot about 5 months ago. Plus, I wrote a couple shorts in there while I was stuck on the plot. (Who knew, I actually need a plot for erootic romance; I can't just string together sex scenes)

The sequel should go much faster. I wrote the synopsis for it last night, and I'm gonna plow trhough the first draft in a month if I can.

James81
05-15-2008, 07:57 PM
So far, it's the only one I've finished.

First draft took me 41 days to write 62,000 words.

Barber
05-15-2008, 08:26 PM
Shortest first draft: seven weeks, 98k words.

I haven't done any serious edits yet, because it's a sequel to another novel. The first has gone through multiple rewrites since both were written, so if any ever comes of it, the sequel will need quite the re-working.

I'm in almost the same boat. I needed to write the sequel to make sure the first book coincided perfectly. I wrote book 2 in about a month with 110,000 words... of course, when I go to the editing stage, I hated myself, LOL.

For the first book, I've spent 6 months writing and revising with necessary breaks.

Storm Dream
05-15-2008, 09:00 PM
About a month and a half, first draft. 108k words. Took another month to do some edits and insert a couple of scenes I thought it needed.

I'm fast when I really get going. I have no idea whether or not it's any good, though.

Shadow_Ferret
05-15-2008, 09:54 PM
2 years. 68,000 words.

1 year revising to 80,000 words.

seun
05-15-2008, 09:55 PM
I wrote a short novel (45,000 words) late last year. If I remember rightly, it took me about three months including the rewrite. My books average out around 90,000 words and that's for a first draft in four to five months.

Soccer Mom
05-16-2008, 12:43 AM
The shortest: six weeks, 93K

The longest: eighteen months, 178K ( of utter garbage)

I write better when I write faster.

Bubastes
05-16-2008, 12:55 AM
51K word mainstream novella, 30 days (for NaNoWriMo). It was completely unsalvageable and so bad that I shredded it to put it out of its misery. Good practice, though. :D

L M Ashton
05-16-2008, 06:20 AM
Wow, guys. I thought I was ambitious and being unrealistic to think I could write a 75K novel in three or four months, but that's seeming more and more possible now! Thanks!
Yeah, I hear you. I used to be really happy with 3 or 4 pages a day. Then I heard about people writing 100-200 pages a week, realized that it was actually possible, and started increasing my daily/weekly/monthly word counts until I got to the point that I can write a novel in 2 1/2 weeks. Sometimes, it's just knowing what's actually possible with others that can make a difference in the limitations we set ourselves.

KikiteNeko
05-16-2008, 06:24 AM
It's also a question of it being GOOD writing. I ended up with about 30K in a month, give or take a week. I wonder if I'll be able to write a great first draft that's more publishable after revisions within a couple of months. I've heard of some great novels taking years, but them some great novels taking months... so I wonder if it took years because the author took a break. o.O I know The Kite Runner took the author about a year and a half, but he also had a full time job as a physician I think, so I can't imagine he had a whole lot of time to write (I, on the other hand, have a pretty worthless job, so I have fewer excuses x.x)


Yeah, I hear you. I used to be really happy with 3 or 4 pages a day. Then I heard about people writing 100-200 pages a week, realized that it was actually possible, and started increasing my daily/weekly/monthly word counts until I got to the point that I can write a novel in 2 1/2 weeks. Sometimes, it's just knowing what's actually possible with others that can make a difference in the limitations we set ourselves.

James81
05-16-2008, 03:58 PM
It's also a question of it being GOOD writing. I ended up with about 30K in a month, give or take a week. I wonder if I'll be able to write a great first draft that's more publishable after revisions within a couple of months. I've heard of some great novels taking years, but them some great novels taking months... so I wonder if it took years because the author took a break. o.O I know The Kite Runner took the author about a year and a half, but he also had a full time job as a physician I think, so I can't imagine he had a whole lot of time to write (I, on the other hand, have a pretty worthless job, so I have fewer excuses x.x)

After going through NaNoWriMo and coming here, I changed my viewpoint to "just write, even it it's bad--get it on the page".

But now I'm reading a book "Telling Lies For Fun and Profit: A Manual For Fiction Writers" by Lawrence Block (which is absolutely FANTASTIC by the way--every fiction writer NEEDS to read this book--go now, stop reading this and go get it lol) which offers the other viewpoint that writing in such a way is only teaching you to be SLOPPY in your writing and that it's ok to to write with the intent of getting quality in the first draft to lessen how much it needs revised. In fact, he's written books that he didn't do ANY revisions to aside from typos and the like.

Really opened my mind to the other side of the coin.

With me, however, I think I NEEDED to write fast, furious, and badly to get something done. I'd never finished anything and doing the NaNo challenge helped me to finally do that.

In your case, if you don't have that sort of problem and can get it done in your own timeframe, then I'd say do what works for you. 30K in a month is nothing to sneeze at, and in 3 months you'd have a good-sized novel.

DeleyanLee
05-16-2008, 04:13 PM
I once had an absolutely amazing, probably never-to-be-repeated, writing session over a 3 day weekend that produced 60K of reasonably good words, finishing the novel in a mind-numbing 6 days. That was back in the late 1990's when that happened.

It was aimed at a Harlequin/Silhouette, so it was about 80-90K. I polished it up and got a very nice personal rejection letter from the editor.

Generally, though, it takes me roughly about 9-12 months to write that much and get the same results.

L M Ashton
05-16-2008, 04:16 PM
But there's no rule that says you can't do both. :)

I'll grant you that my first draft of the novel written in 2 1/2 weeks was not publishable quality at the end of that 2 1/2 weeks, but it wasn't dreck either. It's definitely one of my better or possibly even best first drafts, although I do aim at improving that, too. But I see no reason why I can't write a good first draft fast. To me, both skills are well worth developing. :)

KikiteNeko
05-16-2008, 04:56 PM
In fact, he's written books that he didn't do ANY revisions to aside from typos and the like.

Really opened my mind to the other side of the coin.

With me, however, I think I NEEDED to write fast, furious, and badly to get something done. I'd never finished anything and doing the NaNo challenge helped me to finally do that.


Well. I think that every writer has to do what's best for his/her writing. I personally can't write a sloppy first draft.

My first completed novel took me a year (but for about 8 months I didn't write at all, then then for four months I worked day and night until it was done). I edited as I went, I reread what I had just written, I polished, and I had a really clean first draft that I was totally happy with. I still went over it once or twice beginning to end, but the entire time I wrote, I was very aware of my story, and I was able to bond with my characters, and I was really happy with the amount of care I'd put into it. I was able to send it off to agents basically on its first draft with only some minor changes (a 2K word addition in the middle/end area). I had 17 requests for more, and the rejections I've gotten so far were with regards to plot, and mostly invitations to try that agent again with a more commercial story (I'll admit, it was a really indie story about a girl whose brother had died, and the idioms of her strange family, and I knew from the beginning that getting it published was a longshot).

With my current WIP, I started it in late March. I intended to write 50K words in the month of April, both to move things along and frankly to see if it could be done. Now, mid-May, I'm at 35K... so you know how that went. But I'm still happy with the lower word count because it was all carefully written work that I can use in my final draft.

Again, every writer is different. It's just my .02, and it had me wondering if a quality, publishable novel could be realistically done in a short amount of time.

James81
05-16-2008, 05:05 PM
Well. I think that every writer has to do what's best for his/her writing. I personally can't write a sloppy first draft.

My first completed novel took me a year (but for about 8 months I didn't write at all, then then for four months I worked day and night until it was done). I edited as I went, I reread what I had just written, I polished, and I had a really clean first draft that I was totally happy with. I still went over it once or twice beginning to end, but the entire time I wrote, I was very aware of my story, and I was able to bond with my characters, and I was really happy with the amount of care I'd put into it. I was able to send it off to agents basically on its first draft with only some minor changes (a 2K word addition in the middle/end area). I had 17 requests for more, and the rejections I've gotten so far were with regards to plot, and mostly invitations to try that agent again with a more commercial story (I'll admit, it was a really indie story about a girl whose brother had died, and the idioms of her strange family, and I knew from the beginning that getting it published was a longshot).

With my current WIP, I started it in late March. I intended to write 50K words in the month of April, both to move things along and frankly to see if it could be done. Now, mid-May, I'm at 35K... so you know how that went. But I'm still happy with the lower word count because it was all carefully written work that I can use in my final draft.

Again, every writer is different. It's just my .02, and it had me wondering if a quality, publishable novel could be realistically done in a short amount of time.

Yeah, that's what I was saying.

Before I think I told you to get words on the page and not worry about your first draft. But after reading this section of the book I mentioned, it's opened me back up to the idea of putting quality into a first draft.

In fact, on my current WIP I'm slowing down a bit and trying to put a little more quality to what I'm writing. I may even revise a bit as I go with it. My trouble is getting stuff finished, so it's very well possible that I NEED to get a lot of words on the page in short bursts of time before the idea fizzles out.

SPMiller
05-16-2008, 05:07 PM
But now I'm reading a book "Telling Lies For Fun and Profit: A Manual For Fiction Writers" by Lawrence Block (which is absolutely FANTASTIC by the way--every fiction writer NEEDS to read this book--go now, stop reading this and go get it lol) which offers the other viewpoint that writing in such a way is only teaching you to be SLOPPY in your writing and that it's ok to to write with the intent of getting quality in the first draft to lessen how much it needs revised. In fact, he's written books that he didn't do ANY revisions to aside from typos and the like.

Really opened my mind to the other side of the coin.Well, one thing I'm pretty sure Mr Block mentions in that book and others is that he had a lot more practice than most novelists. He claims to have written "hundreds" of cheap sex novels. He could bang those out without revision, because really, his readers didn't care much for quality--just the sexual tension and such.

So he has had an awful lot more practice than you, or me, or indeed most practicing novelists.

KikiteNeko
05-16-2008, 05:09 PM
My trouble is getting stuff finished, so it's very well possible that I NEED to get a lot of words on the page in short bursts of time before the idea fizzles out.


I have a posterboard on my wall with sticky notes all over it, for the ideas I can't use yet but need to write down. Also, I write them in italics on the bottom of the word document so that I can come back to them. It is surprisingly easy to forget what you meant to say as you're writing, even before you've finished the paragraph.

James81
05-16-2008, 05:36 PM
Well, one thing I'm pretty sure Mr Block mentions in that book and others is that he had a lot more practice than most novelists. He claims to have written "hundreds" of cheap sex novels. He could bang those out without revision, because really, his readers didn't care much for quality--just the sexual tension and such.

So he has had an awful lot more practice than you, or me, or indeed most practicing novelists.

Oh yeah, he definately emphasizes that. You really have to read the book, because I am grossly generalizing what he said. Read the book, I promise you that it's VERY interesting and he really touches on a lot of good stuff.


I have a posterboard on my wall with sticky notes all over it, for the ideas I can't use yet but need to write down. Also, I write them in italics on the bottom of the word document so that I can come back to them. It is surprisingly easy to forget what you meant to say as you're writing, even before you've finished the paragraph.

OH yeah! I HATE it when that happens. Fingers will be typing along and then...nothing...And it's usually something REALLY good too. lol

Sticky notes sounds like a good idea. I'll have to start a posterboard somewhere with ideas on it.

SPMiller
05-16-2008, 05:49 PM
Oh yeah, he definately emphasizes that. You really have to read the book, because I am grossly generalizing what he said. Read the book, I promise you that it's VERY interesting and he really touches on a lot of good stuff.I have his '79 publication, Writing the Novel, which evolved into the book you have.

I will say it doesn't have much to do with the actual mechanics or theory of writing, but it's a very interesting reflection on how one outrageously productive novelist developed his career.

I think my favorite anecdote was when he mislabeled some of his pages and, instead of using white-out, he simply wrote a new page to fill in the gap.

James81
05-16-2008, 06:03 PM
I have his '79 publication, Writing the Novel, which evolved into the book you have.

I will say it doesn't have much to do with the actual mechanics or theory of writing, but it's a very interesting reflection on how one outrageously productive novelist developed his career.

I think my favorite anecdote was when he mislabeled some of his pages and, instead of using white-out, he simply wrote a new page to fill in the gap.

Are you sure that book turned into the book I have?

The book I have is a collection of articles that he wrote for Writer's digest. And I'm thinking that towards the end there are some things on mechanics of actually writing novels (I don't know because I am only halfway through it, but I seem to recall noticing a section in the back where he talks about how to write dialogue because I saw it in the library and that's what spurred me to check it out).

SPMiller
05-16-2008, 06:07 PM
Are you sure that book turned into the book I have?Honestly, no, I'm not sure at all. I was just going by this Amazon review (http://www.amazon.com/review/R1OAAOXJJP9YNH). I don't actually have the book you've read, but based on that review I assumed (perhaps falsely) that it's similar.

James81
05-16-2008, 06:12 PM
Honestly, no, I'm not sure at all. I was just going by this Amazon review (http://www.amazon.com/review/R1OAAOXJJP9YNH). I don't actually have the book you've read, but based on that review I assumed (perhaps falsely) that it's similar.

Ah ok. It probably is pretty similar, but I'd wager there are quite a few differences. My guess is that there are enough similarities between the two that a reader reading both will feel the same similarities, and that the differences are probably more towards the end.

I dunno though. maybe I'll get a copy of the other one and read it and see.

LC030308
05-17-2008, 06:38 AM
thirty days= 83000 words...

JeanneTGC
05-19-2008, 08:32 AM
3 weeks. 130,000 words.

Prior to that, my fastest was 1 month, 108,500 and 110,500 words for 2 books respectively. That was writing. Editing took another week, each.

Both of those just sold and the book I did in 3 weeks is the 3rd in that series.

Now...ask me what my LONGEST book to write was. 10 years. It's all relative. Some will take you longer than others. It's the end result that matters.

LloydBrown
05-19-2008, 07:16 PM
I write better when I write faster.

I'm the same way. I figure if I know my topic very well (in non-fiction) or I have a very clear image of what I want to describe (for fiction), then I write the fastest. The conditions that give me the best writing give me the fastest writing, too.

I started my first non-fiction book with a 48-hour marathon that left 25,000 words on the page. That would have given me an 8-day book if I could have continued it at that pace.