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Analysis: Chapters Per Month (2015)

In 2015, we posted the full manuscript for Echo Chamber Heist to an online writing community. This article analyzes how long it took to post each chapter and how our writing strategy for 2016 has changed.



Note: The sum (42) is greater than current actual chapter count (35) because we closed and reposted some chapters.

Earlier chapters had been drafted four years ago. In some ways, this made it easier to get started, but our writing has come a long way since then. They had to be thoroughly edited, which wasn’t easy, but at least we had something to work with.

January was an aggressive month. We had the excitement of coming back to Echo Chamber Heist after a year-long break to write Dream Eater’s Carnival. Winter kept us indoors, which made it an ideal time to focus.

February dipped, because we got involved with a lot of critique trades. I believe we edited the early chapters a lot, as well.

June and July are difficult months. We don’t have central AC and summer’s heat slows our productivity. It’s also a time for gardening, swimming, and enjoying the outdoors.

We wanted to enter the Pitch Wars competition in August. The deadline gave us motivation.

What We Learned

We were plotters, not pantsers. In many ways, plotting is great—knowing the middle and end gives each chapter direction. However, there were some large, fundamental issues with our outline. It wasn’t until the deadline for Pitch Wars that we realized how fast we can write. Leslie had spent weeks trying to figure out how to write some chapters from the outline. With a deadline, we no longer had time to figure it out, so we scrapped the plan. In a few days, we wrote something far better than what was outlined.

It’s already been mentioned a few times, but we’re going to work in spurts and take breaks so we can come back with fresh eyes. The goal is to finish a first draft quickly, let it rest, then iterate on it. Once we’re comfortable but haven’t spent too much time polishing, we’ll ask a few trusted critique swap buddies to read for big picture issues.

Due to summer being busy with outdoor activity, and our approach of writing quickly then walking away, we’re going to try to time our break for June or July.

Related Article

Analysis: Chapters Per Critiquer (2015)
Last year, 65 critiquers gave feedback on Echo Chamber Heist in our online writing community. This article explores how many chapters each critiquer read and why people stopped reading when they did. Read on
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Coauthor Chapter Editing Board
Before our trip to Japan, I had read most of Echo Chamber Heist on my Nook and took notes. When we returned, I wasn’t sure where we had left off. I knew Leslie and I would be passing chapters back-and-forth and out-of-order at this stage of editing, so I built a board to help manage who currently “owns” a chapter. Read on