Writing funny mysteries (and more!) for you.

Bill Alive
Bill Alive
Writer. Thinker. Goofball.
Jun 20, 2018 4 min read

Challenge Update: Can I Finish MURDER FEELS CRAZY in Time?

Hi! As promised, here’s my Quick Novel Challenge Update. Will I finish the rough draft for the next Mark and Pete comedy mystery adventure in time?

Hi! As promised, here’s my Quick Novel Challenge Update. Will I finish the rough draft for the next Mark and Pete comedy mystery adventure in time?

Last week, I took the plunge and committed to finishing the first draft for Book Three, Murder Feels Crazy, by Friday, July 13. Which, you may have noticed, is now only four weeks away…

So how was my first week of Super Intense Writing Mode? Well, first…


You all are amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I was going to send a flurry of form replies but I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so if you hear a belated reply from me in several weeks, that’s why. But I already read every single email and seriously, thank you. I feel incredibly encouraged.

So that part of the week was fantastic.


I was! And now I am. I’m writing on top of a mountain.

Okay, in a house on top of a mountain. But there’s this huge wall of window doors that literally looks out over a valley, facing another mountain height on an equal level.

Yesterday we slid the doors open, and the breeze was rushing up through the trees like the surf beneath the blue ocean of sky, and we all sat quiet and wrote, wrote, wrote.

Yes, “we”. I’m on a writing retreat.

An editor friend invited me and a few other writer friends to spend a week hanging out and writing at his mountain house.

It’s funny, typing that sounds almost unbearably pretentious … Humblebrag Central … but honestly, talking about myself at all feels that way. It’s a mental shift for me to realize that when I share my adventures with you, I’m not clambering up on a shaky fake pedestal, I’m opening windows for both of us, letting in light and air and possibility…

Writing in this silent hum of intense shared thought is strong magic. Most of the time, I write alone. Writing with other writers feels like finding my place.


So, this challenge really has two parts:

  1. Can I level up my writing time and sustain more hours per day without burning out or losing quality?
  2. Doing this, can I finish this novel draft in the next few weeks?

So far, the answer to number one is … yes!

Normally I write three to four hours each day, but during this first week, I was able to put in six hours or more in a day and it felt great. I do two or three hours at a time, then take a break. No problem.

Honestly, some of your favorite authors might snort out their fifth coffee at such lackadaisical low hours. But for me, it’s a big jump.

A few of you kindly expressed concern that I’d burn out. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to do this AND hold down a normal full-time job. I am very, very fortunate to have a small Internet business with a great team, so I can afford to spend this time writing right now. The main challenge is the writing itself, not juggling everything else around it.


So with all this extra writing, will I get there by my goal?

Answer … I’m not sure yet.

In writing this series, I have developed a really specific, step-by-step process that works great for me. I’ve also timed how long each step has taken with each book, which is how I made this estimate and goal in the first place.

At this point, I have one more step to complete before I start the draft. I call this step the “scene beat”. I had hoped it would take about a week, but now it’s looking more like two or three.

Will that set me back? Maybe … maybe not. The more work I do here, the faster the prose can fly later.

Which means … this could still go either way! Dramatic tension!

Shocker, right? ;)

Meanwhile, perhaps you’re wondering … what exactly IS a “scene beat”?

Oh, it’s wonderful. Every writer should try it. The scene beat is a fantastic method for both stress-testing your story and also tricking yourself into never exactly writing the First Draft…

… so I’ll have to tell you about it next time. :)

Thanks again for sharing this adventure with me. Happy reading! See you next week!

[Bill Alive]

Bill Alive

P.S. Next Tuesday (or cough Wednesday), I’ll pull the curtain on this special pre-draft step that is such a huge help for my writing. See you then!