010: Aidan McGeath – Wrote His First Book While In High School

Writing A 500 Page Fantasy Book In His FREE-Time

Aidan Mcgeath wrote his first 500-page fantasy book while still in high school. He found time at night and between classes. He was done with his book by 18 and published it when he was 19.

He plans to keep writing and shares some insightful lessons about how he plans his novels, where he generates names for his characters, and why he feels he is Born to Write.

Aidan McGeath is a student and, at long last, a fantasy author. He’s been reading fantasy and science fiction for as far back as he can remember. These days, aside from writing, Aidan works with children in summer camps, schools, and after-school programs. Additionally, he contents himself with schoolwork, writing, and reading fantasy when he has the time. 

At the moment, Aidan lives in Southern California. He also knows you probably can’t pronounce his last name correctly but that’s just fine. Nobody really can. It’s pronounced mic-ga-th, by the way.

Here are the highlights of my conversation with Aidan:

[01:40] Where It All Started

Aidan spent practically four years in total in writing his book. It started out as a 50-page Word document from the perspective of one of the three main characters. Publishing wasn’t his main concern and making money from it, rather he was looking to having a physical book itself.

In terms of drafting the story, it took him a year to do it along with a series of revisions. He then came out with three separate stories he thought were interesting that he can tell in their own different ways yet link them altogether at the end of the book. From what started as just 16,000 words, it went up to 160,000 words when he finished writing his first draft.

He wrote about 500-1000 words a day, which obviously took him about some two years to finish writing the book (not to mention he had to put this at the backburner as he also had to focus on his studies).

After the first draft, he printed it and went over it again and saw some issues. He found it easier to edit things out of a physical copy instead of doing it through the computer. That way, he was able to literally write the things he wanted to change. Read the whole thing through, and go back, then edit again. In total, it took him around six months of editing his book.

He realized he couldn’t just edit his book on his own, reason he also got in contact with Azul to get help with it.

[07:40] Building The Habit to Write

Right straight from school, Aidan recalls coming home and getting on his computer, making sure he’s able to do it before having dinner. He did this to build his own habit, which was pretty successful. But his mindset was to really do it everyday. And if he missed a day, he made sure he made up for the lapsed words, picking up the slack tomorrow or the next day. Although this wasn’t something to push him to write, but it sure does help ensure you do. It boils down to building that habit to write even when you don’t feel like writing.

Initially, it would take him three to four hours to write a 500-word piece. But as he went on and progressed, he’d be able to finish it in half an hour. Azul points out that writing can be as painful as going to the gym, especially the first week. Then as you do it after thirty days, you would really see the progress.

For every 250 words, that’s equal to roughly one novel page. And as he finished writing, he calculated it out. So he was setting that goal as to how many words he needed to do, just to help him picture it all out coming together.

[13:15] Having Accountability

The great thing about Aidan is once he decided to write the book, he really had the intention to finish it, which may be something a lot of people struggle with. And what he found that helped him hold accountable for it was the act of telling people that he was writing a book. For him, this was the biggest motivator for him to do it.

Most people in your close family circle may not probably be anticipating to read your book. Nevertheless, if you’re happy with it and people outside of your immediate family would decide to read, that would just be an added bonus.

[15:00] Taking Part in the National Writing Month Challenge

Aidan’s goal is to finish another book as part of this two-part series. Although he know she still has a lot of catching up to do. Basically, he’s taking part in the National Novel Writing Month that happens eery November. Its minimum requirement is 50,000 words and they track your progress and share it.

Basically, Aidan looking forward to seeing how much progress he has made. So if you’re thinking of writing a book, this is a good way of having something to hold you accountable. Azul emphasized the fact that it’s not about how well a book is written. In fact, this is the biggest problem most aspiring writers face. Aidan adds that he did have the same quandary but it’s really about just writing and writing regardless.

[18:15] His Thought Process in Writing a Fictional Book and Drawing Inspirations

Aidan found that the names of main characters are important to make up on your own. For this, he turned to similar sources of inspiration. For instance, if you’re writing a fantasy novel, read fantasy novels as you’re writing it to get into the mindset and just have those ideas woven. As the common saying goes that stories aren’t even written and you just put your own little twist to it. So he was hoping to collect enough ideas and generate enough of his own to make a unique world. This said, Aidan explains that an important aspect of fantasy is creating a world that’s believable and that people can get enveloped into. Otherwise there won’t be any point in reading your book.

The three main characters in his book were names he just came out of his own. But for some of the other characters, he basically used a name generator online. He click through it and he was able to generate a lot of names and he just chose those that really resonated with him. Then he switched them up so they sounded closer to the way he wanted them to sound. He also looked to biblical names and just customized them.

In terms of creating the settings, he drew inspiration and visions from real life. Then he’d picture out what the world would look like, jotting down the geographical points just to see how far each character has traveled to get to where they are right now.

Aidan suggests that if you’re writing a fantasy book, make a world map as soon as you can because this helps you visualize where everything is. But for the landscapes themselves, he drew inspiration from a couple of places he visited that he really enjoyed – the Oregon forests, Ireland, San Diego desert, etc. So it’s about drawing from real-life places.

[25:15] Aidan’s Advice to Those Interested in Writing a Novel

Aidan explains that a lot of people tend to make science fiction and fantasy to be similar. But in general, science fiction ends up being more about large concepts about humanity as a whole. Whereas fantasy itself ends up being more centered around world-building and development of a single character.

By putting an Average Joe into this completely wild and wacky world, Harry Potter as a concrete example, Harry is a great protagonist. J.K. Rowlling has obviously created this incredible world we all want to be a part of. But it’s so complicated that crossing into it is like being dropped into the deep end of the pool and be told to swim. So you need to be gradually eased into it like Harry is. Aidan thinks the way he crafted Harry appeals to a lot of people because he ends up being the amalgamation of a lot of people put into one. And this is what he tries to do with his book.

Aidan’s book, Heartless, is told from a first person perspective of three different people, where each representing a type of Average Joe within the world he built. This said, the key to fantasy is having someone who the audience can click with. So then can use it to see the world through a fresh set of eyes.

So you before you even have to nail the world, you would have to nail a character that is the amalgamation of exciting, funny, and likable traits that the audience can immediately click with. And Aidan hopes he had achieved this in his book. In fact, the editor that was working on this book thought this was one of the best novels she has read so Aidan’s book is definitely worth a try.

[29:55] Aidan’s Gift of Writing

Back when he was a kid, Aidan recalled that when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, his initial answer would be to become a writer. And as time progressed, he found that begging on being an author is an extremely risky endeavor. For one, going through the traditional publishing route, not everybody makes it. Only a very small percentage of people can actually finish a book, much less, get it published. So he never thought of it as an actual career. Nevertheless, the beautiful thing about writing, as Aidan would put it, is that it can be a career or it can be your hobby or break from the stress of work. Or it can be both, which is he hopes what he will end up to be.

For a time though, he thought it was a risky thing and so he kind of fell out of it for a while. But as this idea popped back into his head and sat and germinated, he thought he might as well actually sit down and really do it. And even if it was just for him to read, he knew it would be worth it to be able to say he did it!