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  • Writer's pictureCherish Michele

From None to Some

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

78,000 words.

That’s the approximate word count of my upcoming debut novel, RAGE, EAGLE.

Where do all of these words come from, you may ask? (I know you didn’t ask, but please, play along.)

Today we’re going to be discussing my process for creating a book, and how I go about getting my word count from nonexistent to 78,000.

It all started before RAGE, EAGLE was even a thought in my mind. The year was 2019, and I had just finished writing a story that I had spent months on. For this story, all I went in with was the premise and a character list. I didn’t create an outline. So, I completed the manuscript, then I put it away for a few weeks, feeling good about myself. When I returned with a fresh pair of eyes, I realized that my story definitely did not turn out like the epic journey I envisioned it to be. It was littered with plot holes, inconsistencies, and my voice was all over the place. Which, I understand is normal for a first draft, but I was still feeling a bit iffy.

After reading it through and being a bit disappointed with my final product, I immediately got to work on revisions. I did a few rounds of my own revisions, then hired an editor that ended up being a waste of money since half of their corrections were incorrect, if that makes sense. A few months went by, and the desire to work on my manuscript was continuously weakening. I decided then to take a break from all of it to clear my mind. During this break was when I got the idea for a whole new manuscript, and that wasn’t my intention when I took the break.

It was a random school night, and I was watching anime, when my Mom came downstairs and asked me if I wanted to go to the grocery store with her. I said yes, because why not? So we went, and on the car ride there, I was looking out the window, and for some reason, I could not stop thinking about a particular aspect of the anime series I had been watching, which loosely inspired the setting for RAGE, EAGLE. When we got back home from the store, I ran to my laptop and wrote down everything that started coming to me during the car ride before I could forget it. And it had nothing to do with my original story. That was the moment I realized I was officially done with that manuscript, and that I was going to put my all behind this new project, and do things differently this time around.

The first thing I did differently was my outlining process. I took the premise, and I created the history/background, an entire list of the power system and what certain characters are capable of, a character list with character upbringings/personalities/appearances, and other aspects of the setting such as a map and the laws that govern the nation. Once that was done, for the story itself, I determined that I was going to do two outlines. The first one was the story as a whole, where I broke it down into what was going to happen in the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. The second one was broken down by chapter, and I only wrote the outline for a chapter once I had finished writing the chapter beforehand. So basically, the big picture outline told me where I was going to end up, so I didn't feel like I was writing aimlessly, and the small picture outline went with the flow of things and where my mind was at that particular point in time.

Some of my favorite moments in RAGE, EAGLE are moments I thought of on the fly, which is why I outline one chapter at a time instead of all of the chapters at once. I give myself the creative freedom to go wherever I want with the story, as long as it leads to a certain desired outcome. Now, this is all just how I like to do things, so to me it makes perfect sense, since it’s how I created my novel. Everybody’s process isn’t going to be the same, so mine might be absurd to you, or it might be similar to what you do. To me, it helped me get where I am today with a novel I adore, 22 chapters and 78,000 words later.

As far as how often I wrote, my goal was a chapter a week. Sometimes it would take me a little longer, and sometimes I could do more than one in a week. Overall, it took me about seven to eight months to complete the first draft, then I did the same thing that I did before, where I left it alone for a few weeks to edit with fresh eyes. I edited it myself twice, then I received a manuscript critique from a reputable source. Once I received those critiques, the first thing I did was apply changes where necessary, then I read the story back to see how the changes affected the story. At the time of writing this blog post, I am still in the editing stage. I am working with my editor to enhance readability and flow.

There you have it. That’s my process, and that’s the process I plan to follow for the other books in the RAGE, EAGLE series, as well as for all of the books that will come after. Why did I mention my original story, you ask? (Again, just go along.) Well, it’s because I believe that writing that entire manuscript, which had a word count of approximately 75,000, gave me a better sense of who I was as a writer. When I was in grade school, I wrote comics and short stories for fun all the time, but I had never written a full length novel. Some may view it as a waste of time, but the reason I don’t is because I’m grateful for the opportunity to see what I did wrong and what I didn’t like so I knew not to repeat those things. Also, I 100% plan on returning to that series when I’m finished with my current one. Already having the premise and the characters means I can jump right into fleshing out the plot and the world. Even though it’s not going to be a priority anytime soon, I’m excited for when it will be.

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