Hey guys! It’s #ThrowbackThursday, and I’ve never contributed to this particular hashtag before, so today I’m going all out with the story of how I wrote Sky Knight, my steampunk/sci-fi novel.
I released Sky Knight last year in April, but I originally wrote it in the November of the previous year during National Novel Writing Month. From the 1st to the 30th of November, I sat down every day at my desk and worked on my novel. In my experience, NaNoWriMo provides great motivation to get any writing projects done, and towards the end of the month I had 100k written.
Following the advice of other writers, I took a step away from my story and didn’t look at it again until February. During the months in-between, I researched all I could on the steampunk genre. While I had gathered some knowledge on steampunk already, there were large gaps in my story where I didn’t know how to write certain scenes or how to explain how certain machines worked. By the time February rolled around, I had dozens of bookmarks and written notes all explaining the world of steampunk. I used this knowledge to fill in the gaps and complete the story.
Then came the hardest part: editing.
This took about three months of constant revisions. Every time I read through Sky Knight, I focused upon a different aspect of editing. For example, on one revision I focused upon spelling errors and missing words; on another I focused upon sentence structure and the flow of things. I checked for plot holes and buried them. I scoured the pages for anything that didn’t make sense. Even after announcing the book I was still looking. At the end, I had several thousand words cut from the manuscript.
Eventually I set aside my fears and published Sky Knight in April, 2015. Releasing a book in a new genre is really unnerving, and marketing towards such a specific genre is even more so. Steampunk is a great genre, though, and something I’ll no doubt return to in the future.
So, what did I learn?
- Editing is hard at times. Sometimes it’s fun, but most of the time it’s really tedious. It’s always worthwhile when reading back over the content, though. Editing is also time consuming and the part of the journey to focus most upon.
- Researching was a blast! I learned a lot about the Victorian Era while browsing through information. Steampunk is a genre which requires knowledge concerning a great many subjects, especially if you involve airships or other types of machinery. People want to know how these things work, and it’s the writer’s job to tell them.
- The first draft can be written quickly. I didn’t pause much while writing the first draft. I sort of breezed through it like a car without brakes flying down a mountainside. The final draft read nothing like the first, and it’s pretty amazing when you look at both documents side-by-side and compare them. So, don’t worry about what you write in the first draft, because it will be butchered later to create something much better.
- Market your book while you’re writing it. If you release a book and no one has heard of it before, then no one is going to buy it or talk about it to others. It’s always good to create a good reader base beforehand.
I probably learned more from this experience, but hey, that was last year and my memory isn’t that fantastic. Maybe I’ll make another post later about how awesome steampunk is and why you should read the genre. Trust me: it’s seriously fun, and there are many books out there in the genre to enjoy.
Sky Knight originally wasn’t steampunk, however. It started off as a fantasy novel set in medieval times, where the government was the royal family and airships were regular old ships that sailed the ocean. I might return to that world later with new characters and a new plot line. Who knows? 🙂
For now I’m reaching the end of the writing process for Sky Knight‘s sequel, and I have a YA series I’m rewriting and want to release towards the summer.