Mulling Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series & What Drew Audiences To It

by Shelt Garner

It’s interesting how different authors interpret Stieg Larsson’s first three books involving Lisbeth Salander. What I liked about them — and the element I hope to emulate — was the characters.

I really like The Girl Who Played With Fire the best of those first three books because of those three books that make up the Millennium Series, it’s the one book that really reads like a normal novel. The first book is way too slow at times and the last book is just, well, weird. It’s too complex and about conspiracy theories that Larsson obviously believed in.


I continue to pause my writing on the first novel for about a month. It’s a real struggle. Every day since I went on this “pause” I’ve felt the urge to say,”Fuck it,” and read the first draft so I can turn around and start actively working on the novel again. But I know there are plenty of other things I could be doing while I wait to start up again.

I need to do a lot of reading, for one. A whole lot. I’m going to read — or try to read — the latest book in the new series featuring Salander. I’ve read just a few pages and I already taken aback by how different it is in tone from the other books (I tried to read the first post-Larsson written book in the series and…kinda got bored midway through and stopped.)

But I really need to read any and everything I can get my hands on while I pause my writing. And I also need to throw myself into working on development of the other four novels. I need to remember as I do that, of course, to stay flexible. That’s the one thing I’ve learned from all this work over the last few years is don’t grow too attached the specifics of anything in your outline.

Everything should be up for reworking or change as need be.

I read another novel that is trying to do what I want to do — cater to the Larsson audience — and I was again taken back by how different it was from what I expected. Larsson’s work is very much slow-burn in nature. It’s as if the author of the book in question was trying to cherry pick the best bits of the Larsson stuff so he could be more of a hack.

I don’t know. Whatever. I have my own vision and interpolation of what made Larsson’s work great and I’m going with it. The first three novels in this five novel project are DEFINTELY very “me.” They have my sense of humor and aren’t nearly as dark as Larsson’s stuff, which is probably bad. I need to work on making all these novels darker.

What The Fuck Am I Going To Do About Beta Readers?

by Shelt Garner

Now that I’ve finished my first draft of my first novel, I’m taking about a month’s worth of a pause to develop and read. I’m re-reading Jack M. Bickham’s Scene & Structure and I’m being reminded of some basics of storytelling that will really, REALLY improve the second draft.

Me, 2022

As such, I’m careening towards a point later this year (hopefully) when I’m going to need Beta Readers for the second draft. The problem is, I have no friend, I’m flat broke and no one likes me. What’s more, if I’m going to make the spring querying season, I’m going to need a pretty quick turnaround from anyone reading the second draft.

But I have to believe. I have to have hope that I can figure out how to overcome this potential problem with Beta Readers. I’ve gotten this far, I don’t see why I can’t figure out a way to fix this particular issue, too.

Now, For Hard Work

by Shelt Garner

Now that I have finished the first draft of my first novel, I’m going to take a writing pause of about a month and focus instead of reading and development. I’m probably also going to do a lot of development on the other four novels in this five novel project.

Anyway, I’m going to try to really focus on some basic how-to books that I’ve read a few times already while also reading for entertainment so I can stimulate my mind that way. I might also use the Disney+ subscription I have to distract myself while I figure out how to both improve the first draft when I transition it to a second draft and prevent it from exploding in word count.

I really have a looming problem with word count, I’m afraid.

As the story gets better, each scene is going to grow longer and if I’m not careful, the second draft of my first novel is going to balloon to 200,000 words. That is just not practical. So, I’m going to whittle down the scene count and also, in general, try to make each word and scene really mean something and help the plot forward.

The biggest struggle coming up, of course, is going to be out of my hands — finding reliable Beta Readers. It’s way too easy to get really excited and assume there will be a large pool of people who want to read what you’ve written when, lulz, that is definitely not the case.

Finished The First Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

After about four or so years of hard work, I’ve finally finished the first draft of a novel that won’t embarrass me. It’s not perfect — it has elements of a “vomit draft,” but it’s done.

Now, to pause working on it for about a month and throw myself into read and development of the other four books in the five book project. One of my biggest problems is word count. This first draft is within the 80,000 – 120,000 sweet spot at ~117,000 words, but it risks ballooning into something twice that if I don’t monitor my word count very, very carefully with the second draft.

I say this because I have way too many scenes. If I flesh out characters the way they need to be for a proper second draft, then the individual scenes are going to get a lot longer.

The only thing I can think of is to both compress the number of scenes and to re-imagine some of the novel so it stays between 80,000 and 120,000 words. I don’t think I’m going to have to change things on a structural basis too much. I think, if I’m lucky, I can just cruise through the outline I did for the first draft, tweaking and compressing things as I go.

That’s the hope, at least.

Anyway. I have a huge amount of reading to do. And now I can start working on the other five novels without as much guilt. I hope to turn my attention back to the first novel around late June.

Not To Brag — Too Much — But I’ve Come Up With A Really Good First Novel

by Shelt Garner

I’m just about to wrap up the first draft of my first novel and I’m pleased with the general concept and plot. I still have a lot and I mean A LOT of work to do to get anywhere near being good enough to get published.

But, in general, the concept of this first novel is really good. It’s interesting and thought provoking and I think it will be a really good calling card for the rest of the universe I’ve come up with.

At a minimum, I at least won’t embarrass myself. That’s the goal, at least. And so there you go. I have a huge amount of writing to do. We’ll see how things work out.

At ~110,000 Words: Writing The Last Few Scenes Of The First Draft Of This First Novel Are A Struggle

by Shelt Garner

I’m at ~110,000 words with this first draft of the first novel in what is projected to be a five novel project. And, for some reason, writing these last few scenes are a real struggle.

Some of it is I want to rush through these last few scenes, and, yet, I don’t want to. I don’t want to because I have so much slack in my schedule of development that I don’t have to rush — I still have all of May to wrap up the last few final scenes.

But they say the first draft is meant to be a your “vomit draft” so I need to get over the hump and just write something, anything, so I can turn my attention not just to other books in the series but reading a lot.

Anyway, I need to just do it. I need to get over myself and just wrap up this first draft. Yet is comforting that I’m ahead of schedule and I have a week or two where I can kind of chill out and not force myself to write if I don’t want to.

Manifesting Success: I Aim To Query This First Novel In Spring 2023

by Shelt Garner

While it’s still a few steps down the road, I’m beginning to think seriously about the querying process. Apparently, there are two seasons for querying — spring and fall. I’m not making spring 2022 or fall 2022, but I have a decent chance of beginning to query in spring 2023.

I’m so close to wrapping up the first draft of the first novel. I’m getting really excited. As I may have said before, I’m going to pause for a month then write the second draft.

I think if I can factor in the amount of time necessary to write a second draft and to get beta readers to read the second draft THEN writing a corrected third draft, well, that’s around spring 2023. I suppose I may get pushed into fall 2023, but if that happens, I’m going to have the first three of the five novels in the project completed (at least.)

I believe I have a decent shot of actually doing what I set out to do — successfully going through the process of selling my first novel (or more.) I can’t believe it’s been three or four years since I started this process.

But I have to believe. I have to just have to believe that somehow, some way I’m going to not only querying my first novel, but get an agent and then sell it. That’s it. That’s the dream.

Rounding The Bend

by Shelt Garner

I’m just about to wrap up the climax of my first novel. Then I have two final chapters and then I’m done with the first draft — at last.

Once that’s finally done, I’m going to finish up printing out the entire thing then give myself about a month to just read, daydream and develop the other novels in the five novel project.

I have, in general, a lot of reading to do.

And, for some strange reason, this specific chapter has been really, really tough to sketch out. I find myself moving things around and changing them like I did for ages with the first act.

But anyway, I’m very, very close to wrapping all this up. I’m getting excited about reading a lot and throwing myself into developing the second novel in this five novel project. A lot –and I mean A LOT — could still go wrong. But, lulz, I’ve gotten this far, why not keep going?

Never Give Up. Never, Ever Give Up

by Shelt Garner

In general, no one takes me seriously. And those people who do take me seriously, often get angry for various reasons. But, occasionally, I put a move on the haters and the naysayers.

I’m very, very close to finishing the first draft of my first novel.

The Dreaded Second Draft Sex Scene

by Shelt Garner

I once read a quote from someone influential in the publishing industry that characters in novels have a lot – and I mean A LOT – more sex that people in real life. And, as such, I keep thinking about the absence of any real sexxxy time in the first draft of this thriller-ish novel I’m just about to wrap up.

I have a pretty clear path to writing a sex scene in the second draft, but it’s problematic for a number of reasons. One I’m going to be writing from a female POV and, also, lulz, I have no idea how to write a sex scene without it seeming silly.

But I’ve gotten this far. I can figure something out. Stieg Larsson wrote a number of sex scenes from a female POV and so I think I can probably manage to pull something off as well.

I’m really looking forward to writing the second draft of the first novel and the first draft of the second novel.