Yesterday I completed the the first draft of my third novel (name to be revealed at another time). I had aimed to be at this stage at the end of January 2021, but thanks to COVID-19 and holidays being cancelled, I got more writing done during the summer than planned. I first started writing it back in February this year, so it’s only taken ten months to get this stage – a lot less than the 11 years that it took to complete my first novel, Hijacking Japan.
This novel, as detailed on this page about my novels, will help to fill the gap between Hijacking Japan (set in 2011) and Tokyo 20/20 Vision (which ended up being set in 2021 rather than 2020 due to the postponement of the Olympics). It is in four parts, set across four years, but still continuing to follow the main character, Iwakura, after whom the series is named.
As well as writing during time off, as I have posted about before, writing a bit most days makes a big difference. This is what I had intended to do with the first book, after getting advice to do this during a training session about academic writing, but as time went by I tended to work on that book in blocks of one hour just once or twice a week. Instead, with both my previous novel, Tokyo 20/20 Vision, and this one, I have taken to writing for just a few minutes a day. It is a lot more effective. Not only does the word count keep ticking over, it also gives more time for each part of a chapter and the story to develop. This is completely different to academic writing – which not only needs much more time for research and reading, but the style of writing (including time to think about the subject and each sentence you write) also works better with large blocks of time rather than 15 minutes here and there. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that it has taken me almost exactly the same time this year to get to the first draft stage of an academic chapter I have been working on as it has taken me to complete the first draft of this novel. The former is currently standing at about 12,500 words (and needs to be edited down to around 8,000), while the latter is about 95,000 words long.
The one thing that doesn’t change is the time then needed for re-writes and editing. At least compared to the first novel, since this one was completed within a year, there should be less to worry about in terms of how the characters worked and my style of writing than happened with my first novel. That the book is a more standard length of around 95,000 words rather than about 170,000 will also help.
It was already clear a couple of months ago that I was ahead of schedule, and with a particular reason not to rush starting on my fourth novel, it has opened up a window for another project – a book about Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their fans.
In the meantime, it’s on to the editing.
The photograph accompanying this post is taken of the Toya-maru memorial, where one of the scenes in the novel is set.