The Foolproof Method to Writing Your First Novel This Year
The Brandon Sanderson Method
The foolproof method to write your first novel this year
If you follow the advice within this article you will write a novel this year. The novel will be roughly 150,000 words and it will take you ‘truly’ less than 20 minutes a day.
One thing I hear from Fantasy Writers all the time is: “I want to write a Fantasy Novel”. This is usually followed by: “I just can’t find the time” or “I’m too busy when I get home”. For you people… I have a solution. I’ve named it ‘The Brandon Sanderson’ method. The reason I have called it this is because it was Brandon Sanderson who gave me the idea. I did the math, but essentially the idea is his and I think if I claimed it to be my own, I’d be stealing and in any kind of essay – strung up for plagiarism.
I should re-note though Brandon hasn’t certified this or anything – I just named it after him as a thank you for the idea… really need to make that clear!!!
Step 1: Work out your typing speed.
Working out your typing speed is very, very important. Not just as a writer either… It is pretty standard these days to have on application forms for professional jobs a field for typing speed. So, let’s do that now.
You need to go here: www.typingtest.com
Select 3 minutes and you can choose any subject.
I now presume you have done your typing test. The following is a rough guideline:
Average typing speed: 30 Words per Minute (This is less than generous).
Writer’s typing speed: 60 Words per Minute (This is mine).
Step 2: I want you to take 500 and divide it by the amount of words you can write in one minute.
This is the Brandon Sanderson element to my ‘write your first novel’ method. In a recent interview with Brandon Sanderson (click here to view it yourself) Brandon told me that he isn’t actually an overly fast writer.
What!?!?!? I hear you shout, he has written tons of books and they seem to be appearing on our shelves pretty damned regularly!?!?!? Regularity is the key word here. Brandon told me that what he does is write 500 words every single day without fail.
In my case, I write at just over 60 words per minute. That means I could write 500 words in 8 minutes and 20 seconds.
Here is my reasoning that this method will take you less than 20 minutes a day:
60 words per minute: 8 minutes, 20 seconds.
50 words per minute: 10 minutes.
40 words per minute: 12 minutes, 30 seconds
30 words per minute: 16 minutes, 40 seconds
20 words per minute: 25 minutes
How long will it take to write a novel then? Well, the average novel is about 120,000 to 150,000 words in the fantasy genre.
What I am going to suggest to you as first time novelists is that you aim to write 150,000 words for your novel. You may go over… but… having spoken to a whole bunch of writers during my time at Fantasy-Faction I have come to the conclusion that you are going to need to cut a HUGE amount of words from your first draft. You may need to add some bits and pieces too, but if you aim at 150,000 it is likely that you will be able to get your manuscript down to about 120,000 / 130,000. This is because you will want to push the pace up and get rid of boring pieces of your work.
Step 3: Make that pledge and do it now.
Right. Are you serious about this? No more… ‘I have this’ or ‘I have that’. You have an answer now… a means to accomplish what you have probably considered a dream of yours for a long time. Most fantasy-faction users will have a typing speed of around 60 words per minute I would imagine. I am therefore asking you if you are willing to put ’10 minutes’ aside each day for the next year in order to finish your very first novel. That could be 10 minutes less in bed, 10 minutes less television, 10 minutes less Playstation, 10 minutes less chatting on the phone, 10 minutes during your lunch break – it really doesn’t matter.
You can start this method anytime you like. But, I am going to invite you all to use Fantasy-Faction as a log of your process. I am going to suggest starting as a community on 1st August 2011. Come and sign your name in our forum and pledge to do this (click here) – you can then update us as to your status and keep track of other users too. There is then a support network to push you and keep you going too.
Additional Note: DO NOT PLAN TOO HARD.
Something that Brandon said to me that really hit me hard was that he got good at writing by… writing. It sounds obvious, but Brandon basically wrote a ton of novels knowing that they probably wouldn’t be all that great. The reason he did this was because he knew he needed to get better at writing. I think he recognised that like anything – practice is how you get better. OK… so this novel may not be fantastic, but next year’s one will be better, the one after that better and the one after that better still. The point is that you will be getting better and more experienced at writing. You will have something to look back on and reflect upon for your next attempt. If ‘x’ didn’t work then you will do it differently in the next novel. You will get better at description and dialogue because you are practicing it consistently (every day in-fact!).
The biggest trap you can fall into as a writer is the one I found myself in for about 2 years… planning. Although planning is very important for an author looking to get a book published, it is of minimal importance to an author writing their first novel. Your first novel is likely going to suck. Just as the first time you ever threw a ball at a basket, you probably missed. The first time you drove a car, you probably stalled. The first time you went running, you probably didn’t get all that far… you get the idea. The most important thing is that you go out there, you get this one.
So, how can we write a story without planning? Simple… I give you one week. Once you have decided ‘yes – I am going to do this’ you have one week. That is 7 days to get a notebook and spend as much time as you like planning. On day number 7 you are done. If you have 10 pages of notes on location and characters – excellent! If you have 2 lines – we’ll work with it. Whatever happens you are just going to write and you are going to get better.
Now… you can probably tell I worked as a fitness instructor for a little while. I therefore hope I didn’t come across as too condescending. But the fact of the matter is that using Brandon’s logic, this not having written a single novel in the 2 years I have wanted to is simply put; laziness. If I look back on the last year there is not a single day that would have been ‘impossible’ to write 500 words.
You now have the opportunity to finish your first novel by this time next year. Will you take it?
A Final note on editing.
Editing is very, very important – but it is not as important as actually writing. The way I see editing – you have two options. Either A) You spend an hour every fortnight editing what you have already done (7000 words) or B) You wait until you have finished your 150,000 words and begin editing there. Those of you who are mathematically savvy will have realised that in actual fact it only takes 300 days to write 150,000 words. You therefore have 65 days to work editing your novel before your year is up J