• d. i. richardson

Writing a Novel in Three Months?

My last post about writing a novel in six months was fun and all, but let’s cut that time in half again and boil down what it would take to finish a novel in three months (or less!). This is, obviously, for experienced writers. Do not expect your first novel to take three months to complete if it’s your first go at one.


Find out how to write a book in a year.


Or find out how to do it in six months.


Odds are if you’re reading this, you’re a writer. If you have finished a novel, don’t yell at me if my methods aren’t your methods. We can’t all be carbon copies. If you’re writing or want to write a novel though, consider this a good place to sit down and start. I’ve written eleven manuscripts from start to finish, so I’d hope I’ve learned a couple things in my writing “career.”


Of course it’s all subjective as well. There’s no right amount of time to write a book. I wrote a 110,000-word book in six months and a 56,000-word book over the course of two years.


Okay, here we go.


Genre

Now we have to be pretty strict with what novels can realistically be completed within a three-month window. If you’re a full-time writer, odds are you can still crank out any of the six-month books within this time frame. Most of us are not full-time writers. So let’s take a look at the most feasible options here.

  • Contemporary

  • Romance

  • Literary

  • Thriller

  • Horror

  • Books 75k and under

  • Books requiring none to very little research

I don’t expect anybody to crank out a good fantasy or sci-fi novel in three months, simply because they are longer books and have more in-depth storytelling. Same with crime stories, as they need research and thought put into them to make the twists and turns believable and written well.


The key to writing in three months is either to be full-time writing or to write an “easier” genre to write. Writing is hard no matter what, but if you have to think about and build a world or do research for the novel, it cuts down your actual writing time and draws it out.


Plan It Out

Oh, boy. Another anecdote for planning out a novel. If it takes you more than a day to plan out a novel, you might not write it in three months. Be swift and pointed in your planning/


No research, please.

I’ve managed to crank out a book with minimal planning in three months before, but it was a sequel. So keep that in mind. Any book where you don’t have to do a lot of thinking lends well to this three-month challenge. But, and I can’t stress this enough, this isn’t the rule. There’s no rule saying you can’t write a 120,000-word epic fantasy in three months. I just think it’s unlikely for 99% of writers.


By the Numbers

So, if you’ve read the last two posts, it’s time to crunch more numbers.


For this example, let’s use a 70,000-word novel. It’s basically the industry standard for most genres.


70,000 / 3 months (let’s say 92 days) would equal out to a pace of 761 words per day that you would need to write. This is 300 words higher than the estimate we had in for the other books in the last post about writing a novel in six months.


This also shatters my lifetime writing pace, luckily, through May-July of 2020, I’ve had a pace of almost 1,700 words per day. The COVID-19 pandemic really allowed me to focus more on writing again. Writing 760 words every single day can be a challenge.


Words Per Minute

For the average person, they type at around 40 words per minute (WPM). A novelist can crack 80+ on typing test with ease. There’s a snag with real writing though. Your WPM suffers because you have to 1) think about what you want to write, and 2) have to write more punctuation, including quotation marks. These all hamper your writing speeds to some degree.


For example, my writing speed on typing tests is average 87WPM. The means I could write our daily word count in 8.5 minutes, Except I can’t do that. Because that’s not how writing stories works. Novel words per minute is a different measurement.


Let’s just go ahead and assume novel words per minute (NWPM) is 35% of your raw WPM score to account for thinking and extra punctuation. So for me that would be roughly 30NWPM, meaning I could write our daily score in just under 26 minutes.


For a hobby writer or someone working other full time jobs, this can add up. If you only write every other day, you’re suddenly needing one hour of writing time whenever you write. Which can be hard if you have other commitments.


Consistency

The biggest advice for writing in general is just be consistent. Block out some time every so often to just write. Force yourself to write. If you only wrote when you felt like writing, you’d never write. That’s the paradox.


Again, just block out some time to write! It’s important to dedicate time to your craft or it’ll never get done.


And, finally, and perhaps most importantly: Just write the damn thing because nobody else can do it for you.


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So, what do you think?

Comment your thoughts!

Follow me on Twitter: @coda_cola_

Have a good wander, friend.

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