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Old 03-01-2014, 03:01 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
That agent must never have read a historical on the bestseller list, or done any research at all on writers. It took Ken Follett three years and three months to write Pillars of the Earth, not ten years.

And few of us are going to write 900 page historicals like Pillars until we make a name for ourselves, and probably not even then.
Pillars was also originally published in Germany, as Follet's publisher didn't believe that people wanted to read a novel about building a cathedral. It was only after it was a run-away hit in Germany that it was published in the UK.
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Old 03-01-2014, 09:27 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
That agent must never have read a historical on the bestseller list, or done any research at all on writers. It took Ken Follett three years and three months to write Pillars of the Earth, not ten years.

And few of us are going to write 900 page historicals like Pillars until we make a name for ourselves, and probably not even then.

I know a couple of historical novelists who are extremely good, and both come out with a novel per year.

There's nothing special about an historical novel, and while they can be longer than most other novels, they're no longer than fantasy, and writing is writing. Many historical novels fall in the 80,000 to 120,000 word range. Few go over abut 160,000.

But it should take no longer to write a thousand words of historical fiction than a thousand words of any other kind of fiction. If you plant your butt and write, even a very long historical novel can be written in a year.

Ken Follett wrote the roughly 402,000 words of Pillars in three years and three months. This means he was writing well over 100,000 words per year. That's about average.

It sure as heck doesn't take five years to write a good historical novel, or even a great one.
My apologies for quoting the agent.

The point was that not all authors produce in the same way, and that speed isn't necessarily the ultimate goal. Clearly, I am too slow for the room.
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:33 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by gothicangel View Post
Pillars was also originally published in Germany, as Follet's publisher didn't believe that people wanted to read a novel about building a cathedral. It was only after it was a run-away hit in Germany that it was published in the UK.
They obviously never heard of William Golding's book, The Spire, based on Salisbury Cathedral then

I loved the TV series, despite it's slightly hammy portrayal of the baddies. I have the book on my shelf waiting to be read at some point.

I'm not surprised it took over 3 years to write it, with all the research it must have required. For me I think writing HF takes a greater time commitment than other genres, for that very reason - I could write a chicklit or contemporary romance in a fraction of the time it's taking to write my HF based in ancient Egypt, because the amount of research and complexity of the story is just not comparable. That's not a slight on any genre, or to say writing a successful romance is easier than HF, it's just my own personal experience.
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:54 PM   #29
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They obviously never heard of William Golding's book, The Spire, based on Salisbury Cathedral then

I loved the TV series, despite it's slightly hammy portrayal of the baddies. I have the book on my shelf waiting to be read at some point.

I'm not surprised it took over 3 years to write it, with all the research it must have required. For me I think writing HF takes a greater time commitment than other genres, for that very reason - I could write a chicklit or contemporary romance in a fraction of the time it's taking to write my HF based in ancient Egypt, because the amount of research and complexity of the story is just not comparable. That's not a slight on any genre, or to say writing a successful romance is easier than HF, it's just my own personal experience.
I haven't heard of Golding's book before, thanks, I'll add it to the 'to read' pile (growing more and more like the leaning tower of Pisa.)

I agree about the research. I think its also harder writing about ancient history as well. I think there's a truth in the saying 'history is a foreign country.'
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Old 03-02-2014, 06:55 PM   #30
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My apologies for quoting the agent.

The point was that not all authors produce in the same way, and that speed isn't necessarily the ultimate goal. Clearly, I am too slow for the room.
Not everybody writes for the same reasons either. If I didn't have fun reading and researching, I wouldn't do it. I am never going to make anything near the kind of money I make by writing legal briefs writing fiction unless I suddenly do a J.K. Rowling and that's probably less likely than me winning the lottery so I'd be a fool to torment myself over that slim possibility (when buying a lottery ticket is fairly easy). So all my goal is to read and write what I enjoy and hope someone will eventually read it (and since I can self-publish, someone probably will). Writing x-number of books in a certain time span isn't my goal. It's a perfectly reasonable goal, but not everyone writes for the same reason. We probably don't all even get up in the morning for the same reasons.

That said, I can't imagine a historical taking longer to write than any other book, but can take a heck longer to research. People have different goals there too - not everyone wants to be Dorothy Dunnett.

(incidentally, I hated – really loathed – Pillars whether it took three years or three decades for Follett to write it)
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Old 03-02-2014, 10:09 PM   #31
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That said, I can't imagine a historical taking longer to write than any other book, but can take a heck longer to research. People have different goals there too - not everyone wants to be Dorothy Dunnett.
Well, I'm a pantser and I research as I write, so... the research process is inseparable from the writing process for me
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:42 AM   #32
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It took me 6 months to research and write my novel, then another 2 months in rewrites. In a way I feel like I'd been researching the book for 30 ++ years. The vast majority of everything I have ever read, starting with Antonia Fraser's masterful Mary, Queen of Scots - which blew my 10 year old mind - has been either historical fiction or historical non-fiction.

I live, I breathe, I love history, and it's great to be in a forum amongst similar minded folk!
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Old 04-06-2014, 02:19 AM   #33
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I'm happy to find that I'm not a complete slowpoke! I've been working steadily at it for 18 months, and my first draft still isn't complete.
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Old 06-29-2014, 06:26 PM   #34
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Not a year

About ten months which is scary
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:25 PM   #35
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Interesting to see the thread resurrected (as I have posted a thread on publishing every six months in Novels.)

I just looked back at my drafts of my book, and its taken 2 years to write the novel I now have on submission. I also started my new WIP in March, but that's stalled at the moment because I need to do more research. I stand by my 18 month to produce a polished book.
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Old 06-29-2014, 08:52 PM   #36
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I'm finding this rather reassuring given that I've been stressing over the fact that I started researching this one over a year ago and am still on the first draft!

It's going to depend so much on the nature of the research. My last book took a little over a year, research included, but this book has a lot of real people in it and the thing that is taking the time is keeping track of all of them. Even minor characters have biographies written about them that I have to get on top of.

My next one after this will be a sequel to the first one so I'm reckoning it will take about a third of the research that one did.
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Old 07-06-2014, 03:21 PM   #37
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Editing and revision

Editing takes a frightening amount of time, oh to have an editor. It is this process that has made me decide this next novel will be my last
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