How To Write a Novel in Four Weeks

…if you’re me, writing Hexomancy.

Because that’s what I did. And I’m still kind of reeling. Hexomancy came out about twice as quickly as I’ve ever written a novel before.

Yeah, so that was a bit link-baity of a title, but this whole thing is still kind of crazy to me, so I’m still processing.

I started writing the novel on April 14th, and I finished on May 15th. I took several days off (mostly Saturdays), and had a couple of low-production days. But the net effect is that I wrote a complete rough draft of 72,326 words in 28 days of production.

Here are the factors that went in to my being able to write a complete, if short, draft in just over a month of calendar time.

1) This is the fourth Ree Reyes story, following two novels and a novella. By now, I know the characters, they have pre-existing relationships that I can leverage into lots of tension and sparks, making interpersonal scenes zoom along fairly well. I had a clear vision of what the big concept for the novel was, what the major sub-plot would be, and what the big, explosive ending would be. Those all got me very excited to write the novel, so I started with a ton of energy, writing 15K words in the first week.

2) The series is designed to be light, energetic, and action-packed urban fantasy. Much of the setting is our own world, and most of the rest of the setting I’d already created in previous books in the series. This means I didn’t have to do much world development on top of what I already had, which might slow me down as I have to create whole new systems or settings before moving on with a scene. I broke down the new settings during the outline stage, so I knew enough about each of them to flesh them out on the fly as I wrote. If I were writing sociological SF that was light on action and long on politics, I don’t think I’d have been writing anywhere near as fast.

3) Most importantly (for me), I plotted out the whole novel before I started writing. This was a chapter-by-chapter outline, though some of my chapters were more like beats, as I discovered going through and seeing places where a beat was a chapter, or a chapter turned out to be just a beat. I’ve been outlining more and more for my work, between reading Rachel Aaron’s 2K to 10K, following Chuck Wendig’s TerribleMinds, and perhaps most importantly, taking the Writing on the Fast Track class with Mary Robinette Kowal, which focused on writing fast by outlining and training for better discipline.


My next step, aside from backing the MSS up across several platforms, and sleeping, is to let the manuscript sit for about a month before I go back to do anything. I made some notes of stuff to fix while I was going, so I can start with that, then do a read-through to identify revision objectives.

But the awesome thing? My deadline to turn this novel in is mid-November, exactly six months from now. I’ve got *plenty* of time for revision, even with a super-busy summer.

HEXOMANCY Begins + Process Hacks

I started writing Hexomancy on Monday, and in two days, I’ve hit 5583 words. I’m hoping that this is something of a sustainable pace, since a 2500 words a day pace would be more than double my production rate on The Younger Gods.

What’s different? A few things:

1) This is the fourth Ree Reyes story, so I know the characters, the world, and the tone.

2) My outlining work for Hexomancy is an order of magnitude more detailed than what I did for The Younger Gods – I’m outlining down to scene beats, rather than overall story beats. (For context, when I started writing Geekomancy, I had a sense of what the ending would be, and that was about it. I went in and plotted more after starting, so I had a bit more direction).

3) I’m putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve got lots of irons in the fire, and if I want to produce work fast enough to keep up with the various series I’ve got going, I need to work faster.

4) To that end, focus. I’ve been more dilligent about closing out all of my browser windows and making writing time be just for writing.

5) Splitting the time – rather than trying to get all of my words in all at once, I’ve been writing in 45-minute to 1-hour chunks. My writing brain often slacks off after 60 minutes, so I’d rather get two sessions at higher efficiency than one longer session where the last 1/3 is like pulling teeth.


So far, it’s working really well. Life will inevitably throw me some curveballs that will threaten this new habit, but I’m going to do my damndest to keep up the pace, though I’m also going to be wary of burnout. Novel writing is a marathon, not a sprint, and hitting 20K in a week and a half isn’t worth much if I then have to take a month off.


Linking Log

The last week has been an awesome-nado (a tornado made of awesome?), between the release of Attack the Geek, the cover release of Shield and Crocus, and more. I’ve pulled together most of the relevant links for easy review.



Guest on Functional Nerds Podcast

Interview at Mark Lawrence’s Journal

Guest Post at Book Country on promoting your book before launch

Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe




Attack the Geek

Attack the Geek launches! Available in ebook and audio.

Interview at My Bookish Ways

Cooking the Book feature at GeekMom

Guest Post and Interactive Launch at Bitten by Books

Interview at the Qwillery

My Favorite Bit at Mary Robinette Kowal’s Journal


Shield and Crocus

Cover reveal at

Feature at A Dribble of Ink

Shield and Crocus Blurbs

Available for review on NetGalley

Pizza, Dribbles of Ink, and More!

It’s still launch week, so I’ve assembled a few more links of goings-on.

Over on A Dribble of Ink, I talked with Aidan Moher about Shield and Crocus.

Mark Lawrence hosted me for an interview on his blog.

and today,

Fran Wilde took me to GeekMom for a special Cooking the Books interview about pizza, bar brawls, and Attack the Geek


BONUS! — I stopped by Book Country (where Geekomancy was discovered in early 2012) to talk about how to promote your book before launch.

Round ’em up!

Yesterday was a whirlwind. In order to catch up, I’m going to bring together links from activity over the last week so it’s easier to keep up.

Qwill had me back to the Qwillery to talk Attack the Geek, process, and life.’s Stubby sat me down for the Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe. also revealed Stephan Martiniere’s amazing cover for Shield and Crocus.

Attack the Geek Website size


The Armchair Librarian’s review of Celebromancy.

Talking Supe reviewed Attack the Geek.

GeekyLibrary reviewed Attack the Geek.

Shelly Romano’s review of Attack the Geek on NetGalley

And Marc Wright wrote the first reader review of Shield and Crocus.

Attack the Geek at Bitten By Books

Dear all,

The amazing team at Bitten By Books is hosting me for an interactive event to support Attack the Geek on Thursday 4/10 at Noon CDT.

You can RSVP here — if you’re planning on attending, I highly recommend RSVPing, since it gives you a much better chance at winning the $50 gift card I’m providing as a giveaway prize.

Monday Morning Link Salad

A few cool things happened over this last week, so I’ve assembled them here for public consumption:

KristinD at Bitten By Books gave Attack the Geek 4/5 stars

Mick Happy Reviews gave Geekomancy 4/5 stars


The Shoot the WISB team (myself included) discussed the original 1954 Godzilla

And in case you missed it back on March 7th, I announced that there will be a third Ree Reyes novel: Hexomancy, in 2015.