I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I’ve tried doing so a few times. Usually, I get a few pages in, then peter out. Ideas are a dime a dozen, but I have no idea how to take one from concept to creation. To get past that, I’ve taken part in a few Nanowrimos. That takes me a little further - a few chapters rather than a few pages. I’ve never gone beyond that though.
At the end of May, I thought of doing something different. Rather than write a 100K adult novel, I thought of writing something for my seven year-old daughter. I thought of writing a horror novel for her as she likes spooky stuff and I like writing about spooky stuff. I had no idea what a horror novel for kids looks like, so I picked up a couple of Goosebumps novels, the best-selling children’s horror series of all time, and breezed through them. That gave me an idea of how scary things should get, how long a novel should be, how complex, and so on.
In the next two days, I had a very brief outline written about two kids who sneak into a horror-themed fair and get more than they bargained for. At the time, I thought that 20K words would be a good target and I could get that much written in about two months. Maybe 3 days a week, about 500 words per session, that would mean I get to about 7500 words a month and with a few good days in between, I finish in two months.
It wasn’t a very ambitious target and it wasn’t a very ambitious book, and to my surprise, I managed to finish it in a single month! Right now, I’m reading it a chapter at a time to my daughter as a bedtime story. I can say, with no doubt at all, that it is a really poor effort. I’ll need to re-write large chunks of it, probably restructure some of the central concepts, maybe even change its course a bit to get it to a point where I feel that it would make sense to share to the world.
But that’s for another day. I’m taking Stephen King’s advice to let manuscripts rest for a couple of months before picking them up. Instead, I’ve started a new novel. I don’t have a outline this time, I don’t have an end in mind, what I have is a brief idea, and I want to try pantsing my way through it. It feels wonderful to take a project from start to finish, and having done one, I’m greedy for more.
Image Courtesy Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash