View Full Version : Working on two novels at once?

Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum

Pages : [1] 2

August 14th, 2007, 12:10 PM
Hey all,

While I've always considered writing two novels at the same time foolish, I'm starting to wonder if it's actually possible, and thought I'd ask for your opinions, especially from anyone who's managed to pull it off.

My dilemma stems from the fact that my first novel is speculative fiction (an uplifting, happy story about the end of the world ^_^;), but the one I'm working on right now is anything but. In fact, it's a comedic satire (one that I'm sure will make any reader of my first novel go 'what the heck?!'), and has absolutely nothing to do with sci-fi.

At the same time, I have so many ideas and scenes in mind for my next novel, another apocalyptic sci-fi novel (getting back to form ^_^). Aside from all the ideas I have for it, the main reason why I want to start writing it is because of its socio-political relevance. After all, the storyline will touch upon issues that we're all facing today with respect to "the war on terror" and Iraq. There's a lot that I want to say through the novel, and that, combined with all the ideas I have for it, is really making me think about opening up a second front and starting to work on it simultaneously.

One of the things that's holding me up is the fact that both are first-person narrations, and the characters couldn't be more different if they tried. My current protagonist is this mousy, timid character with a very humorous sense of narration, while the sci-fi character is more somber, introspective, and suffers from amnesia. I don't know if I can successfully occupy two radically different perspectives with any degree of success.

Any thoughts and/or suggestions?

August 14th, 2007, 12:56 PM
Try it and see, nothing to lose.

I have edited one novel, while writing/researching the next. Will be doing that soon, once the present WIP is finished in first draft.

The only time I worked on more than one story was for fun, doing online role play/collab work. I found I had to work hard to seperate the stories in my head, and also the main killer was lack of time to work on the stories.

Power to the J
August 14th, 2007, 01:33 PM
Give it a shot. I like to stay with one at a time--to stay focused--but who knows what will work for you.

August 14th, 2007, 03:55 PM
I'm seriously considering it.

I had an old outline for a TV series that was still quite complete and very cohesive, but it was for an existing TV mythology that I knew would probably never see the light of day.

One day I got to thinking about what I'm going to work on after finishing my current story, and I decided I wanted it to be much darker, with moral ambiguity and no clear hero. Then I wondered what I could do to set it apart from all the other series out there like that. My old outline came back to me and I realized it would take a mininum of tweaking to become what I'd been looking for.

I got so excited I started re-drafting my outline for the new series. I already have main character names, a general background, names for all the books and general plot descriptions of each. And I'm not even done with my first book yet! I am caught between my desire to finish what I'm working on and my desire to start the next thing.

August 14th, 2007, 05:08 PM
I've pulled off two novels at once. I wrote the second novel between drafts of the first one. I think that's the ideal way to do it.

It was actually very fun! The second novel gave me just the sort of break I needed from the first one. When I returned to the first one, I felt like I'd been away for years instead of just a few months. The break helped me to revise it with fresh eyes.

James Carmack
August 14th, 2007, 08:52 PM
It's certainly doable and I personally have a habit of working on multiple projects at once. Along the lines of what Abby was saying, it could do you good to switch gears every now and then.

The only significant worry is that you might lose the coherency of either piece, but that can always be cleaned up in successive drafts.

All this being said, there is merit to giving a single project your undivided attention. Anyway, like everyone else is saying, try it. If it doesn't work for you, no one's going to force you to keep it up.

August 14th, 2007, 09:01 PM
I got burnt out trying to do this, fired my agent and queered a three book deal. Until June of this year I had only plugged away at novels in between short stories or in bits and chunks as I had time. I shared a short with a friend, a fellow writer and part of my online crit group, I said I was thinking about turning it into a novel. She showed it to her agent, who became my agent. I had a draft done by the end of June and we thought this could be a trilogy. She showed draft one to an editor at major house who agreed to buy the trilogy if I could have it the first by end of July and the other two as completed drafts of the same length to them by the end of September.

I am unsure which of us was more foolish for even thinking this was possible. I should have known I would never have the energy to do it. My agent should have never expected me unpublished as a novelist to pull this off or hadn't been so pissy about it when I decided I couldn't edit one and write two more 180k word novels in 87 days. The publisher/editor believed the original had potential and should have been more concerned with quality than quantity. I will forgo mention either editor or publishers name since I may want to go back to them some time in the future.

You take a risk working on too much all at once in my opinion. I learned a valuable lesson that pushed for time you can write a good novel. I called it good enough for submission to the editor on 7/29 2 days ahead of schedule with five rewrites which had various crits and edits from a dozen beta readers and my wife (she is a damned good editor with huge lots of fanfic under her belt and lots of editing for her crit groups not to mention finishing up a masters in rhetoric and composition. She is also brutally honest and even more brutal with the red pen of doom.) I quickly learned that I no longer cared if the other books got done because I was tired of them and needed an extended break.

August 14th, 2007, 09:36 PM
I'd never do it. Writing one book is hard enough, and I find that whenever I start working on a new project, I wind up leaving my old one behind entirely. Sure, I might go back to it later on, but by the time I do I've grown so much as a writer that I hate everything I've already written and wind up discarding it all. I doubt I'm alone in this sort of behavior.

Stick to one book at a time, and write your balls out on it. Obviously this isn't a rule, but nothing bad ever happened to somebody who chose to focus entirely on one project at a time.

Power to the J
August 14th, 2007, 10:43 PM
I have tons of (to me) awesome ideas that I want to write, but I force myself to hold off. Rather then risk losing it, I take 30 minutes to write a quick outline. I add tons to that outline and whichever is the longest or best thought out is what I work on after finishing draft 1 of something else (like Abby & James). But, I think it is vital to wait or bad things happen; the story becomes dull or I start seeing it as stupid trash, and both are writing deaths.

August 14th, 2007, 11:58 PM
Wow, thank you all for your thoughts on this!

It's hardly surprising that there are so many schools of thought to this question. I think that, while it's possible to write two novels at the same time, I guess a lot rests on what else you have going on in your life. And needless to say, I'm assuming most of us have to juggle our writing with full-time jobs that eat up huge chunks of time, and energy, each day. Throw in things like band practice and marketing campaigns, and, well, suddenly sleep becomes a luxury ^_^

I do like what you said, Abby, about the way a second novel can serve as a sort of rest from the first one, and how it can even help you see things you hadn't seen before.

But then, I've heard so many times that trying to write two novels at the same time is kind of like fighting a war on two fronts. I guess I'm going to keep moving along with my current novel (I'm making crazy fast progress on it), and hope that I can get to the next one soon before that passion to write it fizzles out. (Or I get sidetracked with another idea, as has happened before -__-.)