Meet Scott King, a middle-grade fiction, thriller, and nonfiction author, as well as screenwriter, game board photographer, and fellow podcaster. This week I sit down with Scott to talk about his recent book The 5 Day Novel, in which he breaks down the process he used to write his own thriller Ameriguns in just 5 days.
Scott King started out his writing career as a screenwriter, optioning three of his screenplays while in college. He always intended to move to California to pursue movie-making, but unfortunately, his dad suffers from poor health and so Scott chose to stay close to his parents in Texas.
He decided to switch to writing prose fiction and try his hand at self-publishing. He’s since written and published a documentary graphic novel, several middle-grade novels, a thriller novel, and another nonfiction book based on a college scriptwriting course called Finish the Script!, which includes a script Scott wrote using the material in the book.
The first half of 2016, Scott spent six months writing an epic fantasy novel. While the book came in at a hefty 111,000 words, he says he felt a little frustrated at how long it took him to complete it. Scott says he was inspired by how today’s romance authors are writing and delivering great content to their ravenous readers at an unbelievable rate, and he realized that many of the romance authors he knew were cranking out 111,000 words a month.
Naturally, he wanted to know if he could do it too.
The 5 Day Novel
That’s when Scott dreamed up The 5 Day Novel Challenge. He wanted to see if he could write 50,000 words in one day and hold his own among those prolific romance authors. The rules were simple. He wasn’t allowed to do any preparation for the book except for research during the two weeks prior to the beginning of the challenge. Also, his wife required that he get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well.
While he wasn’t able to finish the 50,000 words in a single day on Day 2 as he had planned, he still had a complete revised and polished draft to his editor after just 5 days! Scott subsequently published his book, a political thriller, Ameriguns, and has already written its sequel, which took just 8 days.
On top of all of that, Scott wrote a book breaking down his work flow process for accomplishing this challenge. In his book The 5 Day Novel, he offers real world strategies and tips to develop, write, edit, and polish a complete draft of your novel in just 5 days. Here’s how his process breaks down:
- Day 1 – Prewriting. This is where you decide on your protagonist, figure out what it is they want and what’s in their way, what genre your story falls in, the POV and tense you want to use, a pitch, and an outline.
- Day 2 – Write! Scott offers real world strategies to get through your first draft as quickly as possible with strategies like “No Take Backs” and prepping and freezing your meals for the week.
- Day 3 – More Writing! Scott recommends when working through your first draft, you focus more on solving the big problems of the story and skipping the little ones. He also notes the importance of getting enough sleep while attempting this challenge.
- Day 4 – Rewriting. This is the day you identify the problems with your manuscript and address each problem in rewrites.
- Day 5 – Polish. This is the edit pass in which you fine-tune your manuscript with line edits and get it ready for your first reader or editor.
Scott stresses that the point of the book isn’t so much to get other writers to write their novels in 5 days, but just to share techniques and strategies from his work flow to show how it’s possible in the hopes that his readers will find his process useful in improving their own work flow.
The Creators Cast
Scott is also a podcaster! Frustrated by ill-prepared podcast interviews of other creators in the game board space, Scott decided he’d make his own podcast, The Creators Cast Podcast, so that he could interview “cool people like novelists, photographers, comic book writers, game designers, publishers, and just about everything in between.”
The podcast is now 95 episodes along and has many great interviews of indie writer favorites like Joanna Penn and Chris Fox, just to name two.
Advice to New Authors
“I think the biggest thing anyone can do to be a better writer is to write more. The more you write, the more you’re going to develop your voice. The more you put out there, the more you’re going to see how people respond to your work and the more you’re going to grow. So if you’re just trying to be a better author, just write more.”
- Give Scott’s 5 Day Novel process a try. It’s only 5 days long and you end up with a book at the end!
- Design and execute your own challenge. Maybe 5 days isn’t feasible for you and your lifestyle, but you could manage it in 10 days, you think. Or create a challenge in a different discipline, like a screenplay in 30 days, or the first three podcast episodes of that podcast you’ve been dreaming of in a month’s time. Make sure your challenge takes you to the finish line though.
- Then ship it! Get it out there into the world.
What’s the shortest and longest time it’s taken for you to write a book, and what major factors contributed to those outcomes?
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