Writing a Novel: Progress Report for The Second Rebellion

mock cover for The Second Rebellion

Mock minimalist cover for The Second Rebellion. A real cover would have lots of space ships or maybe a woman soldier carrying a very sci-fi-looking gun.

The Second Rebellion (working title) is the fifth novel I’ve written, and I’m determined that it will be the first novel that I revise and attempt to publish. My first four novel attempts vary in length and complexity — my first attempt, in high school, maxed out just over 30,000 words, and my most recent, set aside in 2014 so I could start The Second Rebellion, is just under 160,000 words. As I’ve become more serious about my writing, my storytelling skills have improved markedly, and I continue to work to strengthen my craft.

Always striving to improve my practice and increase my productivity, I recently read Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin and realized that I produce best when I have external accountability. I attend a writer’s group several times a week, but that hasn’t been enough to make me maintain forward progress. I experimented several years ago with accountability partners, but the format we chose didn’t work — I’d be game to try again, with the right person. I love deadlines at work, but setting deadlines for myself wasn’t sufficient.

To hold myself accountable, I’ve created this record of my writing process for The Second Rebellion, and will post weekly status updates of my revision progress. I hope this record will be useful for other writers (and myself for future books), and entertaining if I do manage to sell The Second Rebellion. (April 2017: Check out my two month evaluation of the usefulness of weekly writing progress reports.)

(Intro written February 2017)

Stats for The Second Rebellion

  • Working on my novel during a break at Sasquan (Worldcon 2015).

    NaNoWriMo’s: 2 (NaNo 2014 and NaNo 2015)

  • Camp NaNo’s: 2 (Summer 2015 and Spring 2016)
  • First draft word count: 189,245
  • Words removed from zero draft in restructuring: 79,749 (putting total words written to produce the first draft around 269,000)
  • POVs: 4
  • POVs removed: 1
  • Goal final word count: 120,000
  • Genre: space opera

Process and Timeline for Writing The Second Rebellion

  • Evaluating and reorganizing scenes in The Second Rebellion in 2015.

    Outline created:
    October 2014

  • Zero draft started: November 1, 2014
  • First restructuring: February 2015
  • Second restructuring:
    May 2015
  • Third restructuring:
    August 2015
  • First draft completed:
    June 13, 2016 (goal was October 2015)
  • Fourth restructuring: October 2016, December 2016 – January 2017
  • Revision started: February 2017

Synopsis of The Second Rebellion

Professional kayaker and double-amputee Saval Karimi has a vision for her planet: to become the adventure tourist destination for the 60-planet Qabbani Empire. But mega-corporation Elemental holds a long-term lease on the planet and all its natural resources. When a landslide caused by clear-cutting destroys much of her town, she pushes back and discovers how far Elemental will go for profit — and that her government supports Elemental, not her.

Ten years after the Iarsmaí people’s bloody uprising failed, a resistance group prepares to launch a second rebellion. Special forces soldier Ishtar’s directive to stop them sounds textbook, until she learns the cost of failure: a stealth virus genetically targeted to destroy the Iarsmaí. And now her mission’s complicated by Saval Karimi’s calls for change.

Revision Progress Reports

novel chapter progress sheet april 2017

Chapter by chapter progress, as of April 2, 2017. “First draft” gets checked off when I amend the current draft to reflect the updated outline; “revised draft” gets checked off when I’ve done a first pass of editing on paper.

After two months, I evaluated the usefulness of the weekly progress reports and decided to continue the experiment.












About Tracy Durnell

Seattle-area graphic designer and SFF writer inspired by the Pacific Northwest, crafting a sustainable and intentional life.

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