Novel Progress: October

20151006_121417Blimey. The first draft’s done.

It’s felt surreal, this whole time – I knew that I was close to finishing, especially when I was ticking off smaller tasks from my to-do list, but having the first draft completely done and then having it printed makes it a little more real. It’s a big slab of paper – about 300 pages, and around 103,000 words – and I wrote all of them. 

Of course, it’s the first draft of a novel. “Finished” is a lie, because I’m still right in the middle of the process. That, perhaps, explains why I don’t yet have the feeling of accomplishment that some have assumed. I keep telling myself that I should be proud – and, I suppose, I am, because finishing a draft is still an accomplishment – but I’m still keenly aware of what’s to come.

I’m letting it sit right now. It’s always best to let a first draft sit for a while before diving straight back in, and now I have a great reason. I’m giving Sue’s book another read.

That’ll be done in a couple of weeks, and then it’s time to dive into my edits.

I’m concerned, intrigued and excited about what I’m going to find, and I think that the front third of the book is going to require far more work than the last two-thirds. That should tally right up with how I planned – or didn’t plan – the novel.My initial chapter outlines were short paragraphs, and then one day I realised that this just wasn’t enough to handle where I wanted the book and its characters to go. I stopped writing the book for a couple of days and started writing longer, in-depth chapter outlines, and then wrote profiles for my main characters.

Fingers crossed the break I took to write more detailed plans will have ensured that the last two-thirds of the book are more coherent and well-structured.

I expect that a fair amount of work will revolve around making sure my plot and characters are consistent and well-defined, but that’s just the beginning. It’s the first draft, so every sentence will need to be analysed and made better. Characters, places and plots will have to be tightened up in every way.

I’m interested to see how my writing has developed over time, too. Hopefully I’ll be able to notice some improvement as I work through the book. Fingers crossed. And then, once I’ve edited the first draft and made the changes, I’m excited to see what comes out. Hopefully it’ll be something better.

Of course, this is all guesswork. I edit my own stuff for my job, and I’ve edited Sue’s book, but I’ve never edited my own book. It’ll soon be time to get started – but for now I’m off to buy a box of red pens.