Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How long does it take?

How long does it take to write a book? The recent interview with Danielle Steele should cast some light--a year on a 80+ page outline, a year on the first draft, two years on revision of that draft. How do you stack up? Have you ever done an 80+ page outline?

In Hollywood, they do what are called treatments, which can vary by length, but most professional writers do create long treatments of their stories, sometimes working on that treatment for more than a year. Why all this work? To create the kind of stories that people want to see on the screen or read. Writing is hard work. Very hard. It takes commitment, discipline, effort, and talent. You can't be depressed or distracted. You have to be smart, alive, plugged in, part of something. You have to be an astute observer of life and people.


Emily Veinglory: said...

Hmmm. If my books made what hers did perhaps I could afford to take my time like that.

Anonymous said...

Reading some of the reviews of her work on Amazon, one would think that she is recycling plots and characters over and over. It also appears that she has been putting out almost two books per year, so the process you quoted does not make any sense.

cheryl anne gardner said...

I agree with the hard work part, and I agree with the time spent, in a way. Morrow took seven years to write "Last Witchfinder" and you could tell.

I write novellas, so the entire story might be lucky to get to 80 pages in the end. But I can say, it takes roughly three to four months to outline the story, characterize the players, and layout the major impact scenes. Then it takes me the better part of a year to write and edit it. And we are talking only 20-30k word novellas.

But, like many authors, I might work on two or three projects at once. Get stuck on one, go work on another. So it might appear a timeline is much shorter when it really isn't.

Wardell Brown Sr. said...

Maybe she works on more than one manuscript at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I'd wager she works on more than one manuscript at a time, for varying definitions of such a system. Like me, I write a short outline, then pound out a rough draft. I adapt that rough draft into a screenplay, and then start revising the original draft, which can take a long while. But while it takes a long while, I start the short-ish outline for the next project, which I draft when I finish the revision.

So there are always multiple projects in varying stages of completion.

~will entrekin

Wardell Brown Sr. said...

I think that working on more than one book at a time is the best way to do it.

Kristen said...

I don't think there is any one formula, time period, or practice.

Some people write very good (and successful) books in a few months (I think Dodi Smith did).

Others take longer, and it probably varies from project to project.