Let the Mad Cackling Begin #AmWriting

Guess what, peoples? I did it. I finished the first draft of Isto this year. *deep breath*


If you’re at all familiar with me, you’ll know that I’ve been working on this book for years. Just how long? Well, when I released the last book, my little boy was only a few months old. He’ll be five this coming month. Sheesh.

For a bit of fun, I’ve compiled a few stats comparing Thanmir War with Isto to see how books in the same series line up. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Stats Thanmir War Isto
First Draft Word Count 210K 190K
Final Draft Word Count 170K TBD
Years to Completion 3 5
Kids Raised While Writing 1 2
Drastic Plot/Character Changes 1 3
Total Chapters (including Prologue/Epilogue/Bonus) 37 59
Average Chapter Length 4700 3200
Average Scene Length 1180 2380
Total Number of Scenes 148 81
Average Scene Count/Chapter 4 1.15


I opted for shorter chapters with fewer scenes per each this time around. Even though average chapter length is 3200, the majority of the Isto chapters are in the 2K range, where most of Thanmir War‘s chapters are 5Kish. In the previous book, it was easier to have longer chapters because the flow had more than half the book in Derek’s POV. This one, things panned out a little more evenly. Derek’s got 31%, LaTonya’s 27%, Cameron is 26%, and MaTisha’s 15%, with 1% belonging to a couple of one-off scenes from someone else’s POV.

(If you can’t tell, I might be slightly analytical.)

Since analyzing things is one of those constant behaviors with me, I look back at the past few years and wonder “where have I improved?”

Well, for one, I’m better at managing tension. I admit with no small amount of flinching that tension was one of those areas that Thanmir War could use more of. I think I’ve got a better mastery of it in Isto, though. Maybe. Okay, so I’m not really sure, but gosh darn it, I hope I’ve improved!

I’ve also gotten better at writing a cleaner first draft. I like to use a tool called Pro Writing Aid, and when I first tried it out with Thanmir War, it gave me a laundry list of stuff to address. It taught me about -ing verbs at the beginning of my sentences and how they imply simultaneous action that can’t always take place. I learned about how my “was” usage translated to passive voice, unnecessary past-progressive verb usage, and boring telling description. This time around? No such horror. *thumbs up*

But with even with my improvements, I can still see my flaws. I’m terrible with relaying convincing emotions. Yes, I use the Emotion Thesaurus, but I have the issue of not knowing what emotion I’m supposed to be trying to convey. Even now, my characters wind up inappropriately unconcerned, and I’m not sure it’ll ever be something I can catch by myself. (Thank goodness for critique partners.)

Well, if I haven’t bored you enough (perhaps my issues with tension haven’t been resolved), then I’ll leave you with this. *hands over confetti* Let’s celebrate because the first draft is DONE!

Do you enjoy comparing numbers? Do you ever sit and think about the ways you’ve grown in your talents?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

23 thoughts on “Let the Mad Cackling Begin #AmWriting

  1. You remind me of the days when I had time to be organized and analytical. And productive. I miss those days.

    I’m doing a happy dance for you! I’m so glad you finally finished the book!

  2. Good for you, Loni! Well done!

    Maybe we should all take more time to look back and see how much we’ve grown and improved in our craft. Instead of beating ourselves up so much, a pat on the back, some recognition would be nice. I don’t do that nearly enough.

  3. Christine Rains

    Woohoo! Congrats! That is awesome. It is encouraging to look back and see how much we’ve improved. I’m a completely different writer than I was five years ago. Different than I was ten years ago. I hope to be different five years from now. I do like seeing numbers even though I rarely track my own. πŸ™‚

  4. Sarah Brentyn

    Woot! ? That’s awesome! Congrats, my friend! (Your analytical stuff cracks me up.) I’m here if you need a real-life Emotion Thesaurus. πŸ™‚

  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Think my comment got deleted. Hmm… Well, it was something like, “You’re awesome, congratulations, woot, and I’m here if you need help with those pesky emotions…” πŸ™‚

    • I see your comment there! Not sure what happened. Might have been caching.

  6. Congrats on finishing. That’s huge. And making improvements in your writing. Also huge.

  7. Congratulations! For my taste shorter chapters is good. Usually I don’t sit down to read for long spells and I like to have good stopping places like the end of a short chapter.

    I like comparing numbers when it comes to general stats–I usually don’t have those numbers in regard to anything I’ve been doing.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  8. Proud of you!!! Confetti all around! πŸ™‚

  9. Congratulations!
    Wow, that is a lot of chapters. I think my longest book doesn’t even hit twenty chapters.

  10. Congratulations!!!!

    So, Isto is a little shorter? That’s nice. I do like big books, though.

    I can’t wait to read Isto. I’ll have to re-read Thanmir War first, though. lol

    • The first draft is shorter, but I also write a cleaner first draft now, so I might not have as much to cut. Right now, it’s 20K longer than the final draft of Thanmir War.

  11. Congratulations on finishing a substantial workload. I take far longer to write shorter mysteries – 13 years for the first one.

    • Do you recommend Pro Writing Aid and still use it?

      • I do recommend it, and I still use it, but more to double-check I’m on the right path and less because I need guidance.

        • I will check it out as I need to double-check – especially my -ing usage.

  12. Congrats on finishing it!

  13. I’ve worked at adding more emotion to my writing and still strive to get better at it. How to improve is something I think about after every book. Then I read a few craft books for pointers that I employ in the next.

  14. Congratulations! I wouldn’t worry too much about the 5 year time frame. I’ve been working on my story for ten years , and I’m just now nearing completion (as you well know). Reading the list of things you’ve improved on in your writing reminds me of my writing journey — the starting sentences with “-ing” verbs phase, the using passive voice phase, the “telling” phase. (Okay, so I’m still working on the telling part, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.) And don’t get me started with tension and emotions.

    So give yourself some time to celebrate.

  15. I do! I obsess and study and think about how my writing compares to the genre overall. Congratulations! That’s huge! Time to celebrate πŸ™‚

  16. Finishing the first draft is always exhilarating for me, too! Good job! And of course you’ve improved – you’re writing aren’t you? πŸ˜‰

  17. Congrats! I tend to love charts and comparing things with statistics- so I am all about the chart you made. I am a slow writer – or the whole process is slow for me I guess. But- fitting in writing with a full time job (or kids etc.) can throw all kinds of curve balls our way. πŸ™‚

    The program you used sounds like it helped. I know -ing verbs are still a problem for me. I have made progress- but I have to keep working. Thank goodness for editors.

    Best of luck!

  18. Congrats again, Loni!

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