How I wrote my first novel

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Over the years I’ve tried my hand at writing several times. Mostly short stories that didn’t have the best premises or characters. I wrote them for fun, shared them with a few friends, and then moved on to other things. I had fantasies about one day writing the great American novel and even jotted down a few ideas for novels, but none of those ideas were ever good enough for me to follow up on. That all changed about five and a half years ago when I came up with an interesting idea…

I was taking a shower one morning when the thought struck me, what would happen if suddenly everyone on the planet was immortal? I began to think of all the repercussions that such an event was cause; economic, cultural, spiritual, political, etc. Before I could even get out of the shower, I already had an idea for a short story based on this premise. However, before I could write any of it down, I had another idea; what if everyone, along with being immortal, was also sterile? My head nearly exploded, and I couldn’t wait to sit down and write a short story set in this universe.

About five days later I had the first draft of my first short story of what I would later call The Event universe. The name of the story was The Singularity Hypothesis. It was just an introduction to the universe and overall it wasn’t very good. The plot was thin, and the dialogue was clunky, but it was my first attempt in my new universe, and I was excited. I was so excited that I shared it with family and some friends and the feedback was so good that I knew I had to keep writing. Only one small part of this story made it into what would eventually become the novel, but the genie was out of the bottle and I was writing.

Over the next two months, I wrote three more short stories that were all set in The Event universe. The last of which introduced John Fitzpatrick, the detective that would later in the writing process become the protagonist of my novel. At this point, I still hadn’t figured out what had caused The Event but that didn’t really matter as the universe was interesting and I was sure I would eventually figure things out. My friends and family were enthusiastic about these new stories and I was determined to write more. However, life had other plans.

Within a couple of weeks of finishing the fourth short story in this new universe, my girlfriend and I broke up and I took it pretty hard. I didn’t feel like doing much of anything, especially writing short stories. About two years later, I think I was in the shower again, I came up with the cause of The Event. However, I still wasn’t in a place to start writing again so I just wrote everything down, about two pages of notes as I recall.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it here; you’ll have to read the book for that.

A few months later, I was talking with a couple of friends from work about some shows that were popular on television and I mentioned my Event stories that I had written almost two years earlier. They all said they were interested so I let them read them and a couple of them asked me the same question, “Are you writing a book?”

 That question made me dig out my notes and suddenly I was writing again. This time with renewed vigor as I knew how I could tie it all in together. Over the next six months, I was writing between one and two stories (chapters) a month, in some months more. My friends at work and my family were reading each chapter as I wrote them and were giving me great feedback and encouragement to write more.

When I finally had everything weaved together I had about 50,000 words and I thought it was done. I knew it was too short to be a real novel, but I was content with what I had achieved. However, new ideas kept coming to me, so I kept writing more chapters.

Eventually, I had eighteen chapters and I thought I might have a complete novel, but I hadn’t put all the chapters together into one manuscript, so I wasn’t sure. I spent about six weeks or so rewriting every single chapter and putting them together into one manuscript. I’m going to mention my good friend Amanda Bullen here as she alpha read every chapter for me, giving me great feedback every time, and I don’t think I could have made it through this process with her. Thanks, Amanda!

My first drafted manuscript came in at 80,500 words. I think I’m on the 5th draft now and I’m up to nearly 84,000 words. Not sure what the final word count will be when I publish but it’s more than I ever thought I could write…Update, I’m now over 87,000 words.

As I wait on my novel to be edited and the cover art to be completed, I’ve started jotting down notes for my next novel. So far, I’ve only got about one page of notes but it’s a start. Yes, it’s going to be set in The Event universe. Stay tuned!

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