Veronica Roth Gives Me Hope For My Writing


If you haven’t heard about Veronica Roth, that’s a shame, because she is an amazing young woman. As a student at Northwestern (I almost went there!), Veronica started working on a novel that would form the basis for her first novel, Divergent. She found an agent and sold this trilogy to a publisher. The first book was followed by a sequel, Insurgent and the third one is due out this year. These books are so good that there’s a movie about to be filmed.


I avidly read both of these books on my Kindle (I am the cheapest person ever when it comes to Kindle books, so the fact that I actually paid money for these is a huge endorsement). I admit to having a criticism of the second book: a character does something that is not believable, but I am reserving judgment until the third book, which will hopefully explain everything.

Anyway, the entire point of this post is to mention a post from the author’s blog in which she explains how the first book changed from first draft to final version. (Warning: the post has spoilers!) I’ll quote from relevant parts (don’t worry, I won’t reveal any plot details).

The rough draft of Divergent was about 56,000 words long. For those of you who don’t speak word count, 56,000 words is a little less than 200 pages (at an average of 300 words per page, given the font size/spacing I usually use).

This makes me feel so much better about my own writing. 56,000 words is not a usual novel length. I always hear that people have problems cutting their drafts down; my problem is the opposite – actually getting enough words to have a novel.

It’s a bit of an oversimplification to say “the second draft,” because the book actually went through several rounds of revision before I arrived at what I would call the second draft. One of them was with my current agent, after signing with her. Throughout this process, I added about 30,000 words, so the second draft was about 85,000 words long, or a little less than 300 pages in Word.

I didn’t take anything out. My agent thought that what was there was good, but it was all so sparse that it wasn’t living up to its potential.

I like the writing process she describes, how she increases the word count with each draft.

After the book deal, I went through a few rounds of revision with my editor. I added another 20,000 words, so the final draft clocks in at about 105,000 words, or 400 pages in Word.

All I have to say is that Veronica Roth is amazing and I sort of wish I had gone to Northwestern, because then I might have met her. (Northwestern even uses the same introductory Russian textbook that my class did! But I doubt the professors are as amazing as mine were.)


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