Each of my first four books took about a year to write. This past weekend, I hit 30,000 words — roughly the midpoint of the novel I started writing six weeks ago. At this rate, I’ll reach the end sometime in September.
Finishing in three months rather than the usual twelve is amazing. That’s like trimming my time to run a mile from twelve minutes to a world-record-breaking three minutes. Why has The Case of the Missing Drag Queen come together so much faster?
1) It’s my first story centered around the transformation of the main character. My first four novels are more about gay life at particular points in time than the journey of any one character. I’m too thrilled to have finally figured this out to be embarrassed about my ignorance.
2) Using the three-act structure is another first. The Case of the Missing Drag Queen began as a list of 8 to 10 major plot points. The story is dramatically different from what I first envisioned, but the major plot points — the backbone of the story — haven’t changed.
3) Outlining has long been part of my process. Rather than the format you probably envision, this is a brief description of what needs to happen in each chapter that rarely holds true more than three or four chapters out. The backbone keeps me from veering off course.
4) The Case of the Missing Drag Queen is my first story with a single point of view. My novels typically have at least three points of view. Weaving multiple perspectives together takes more time.
5) I’m focused on finishing the first draft. Instead of spending hours and hours editing and re-editing what I’ve already written, I write another chapter. Rather than going back and working a new idea into the story, I add it to a list of changes to deal with when I’m done.
6) More than with my previous novels, I’m writing from my wheelhouse. The story is set in 1982 and revolves around a gay bar and an apartment building in Lexington, KY that looks a whole lot like my world at age 24.
Best of all, I’m having a blast. The frustration I felt with my abandoned manuscripts is gone. With no wall in sight, I’m confident about finishing The Case of the Missing Drag Queen by the end of September. I’ll keep you posted.