Chronicling The Craft: FIRST DRAFT – DONE!

What’s Next, and A Question For You

Chapters Completed: 35

Chapters In Progress: 0

Chapters Not Started: 0

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the completion of the first draft.

SURPRISE! 😀  I had originally promised to post a new Chronicle when I hit the 115,000-word mark. However, between various blogging commitments and how quickly (on my standards) I was cranking out the remaining chapters, I decided to wait on a novel-writing update until it reached the most important milestone of them all. And now – 25 months and 132,000 words after I started with an outline and this crazy idea of a quest story with magic, life-size Faeries who can fly, shadow demons, and a female protagonist who is her own worst enemy – the first draft is finally DONE! 

I don’t normally use animated GIFs in my articles, but words won’t suffice this time. So…

This was my mindset most of the final day of Draft #1.

little-engine-that-could

 

When I typed the final words and hit “Save” for the last time, I did this.

Hermione-Granger-Cheers-During-Quidditch-Match

 

Then this happened.

Kristen-Bell-Happy-Tears

 

And then, because it had taken longer than I’d expected to reach the end, I felt like doing this:

Bilbo faints

 

Finally, since I’d skipped lunch and it was nearly dinnertime, I felt like doing this:

Cookie Monster

 

*lol* OK, on a more serious note…

Finishing the first draft of a novel is a true rollercoaster of emotions: determination, frustration, euphoria, disbelief, relief, and many more. And if (like me) you work full-time and your novel-writing is forced to be a part-time endeavor, it can stretch out the drafting stage from months to years and make “THE END” seem unattainable despite your progress. I mean, I always knew I’d get there. I had finished a novel before, so the will to write another one was already there. But it still feels… surreal. I keep having to remind myself that it’s done, that I won’t have to work on it this coming weekend. And then I think, “What the hell am I going to do with myself??”

This novel in particular has also been a tremendous learning experience, not only as a writer and a reader, but also as a person. I’m more sure than ever now of my purpose in life: to write stories and share them with the world. I get no greater joy, fulfillment, or challenge than from doing that. Of course, I’m nowhere near the point where I can write novels for a living – and I’m not at all jaded to the fact that nothing’s guaranteed in the publishing industry. Completing this first draft, however, brings me one step closer to that dream, and I’m motivated to keep on trucking.

Last Page Screenshot

Screenshot of the last page of the WIP. Click the image to view a larger version.

What’s Next?

So, what are my plans now that Draft #1 is done? Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. I’m taking a short “vacation” from the novel. It’s been with me for so long that I’ll welcome some time away from it. Plus, the “vacation” will allow me to look at the story with fresh eyes for Draft #2 (see Item 5 below) – and to focus on non-writerly things that haven’t been high on my list of priorities. Like housecleaning. Ohhhhh, you don’t want to know how dusty my condo is right now…
  2. I can finally catch up on my world-building and character development “appendices.” Instead of dumping all that information into the novel, I had developed separate documents and “info-dumped” there, then copied and pasted stuff into the novel later. I’ve let those appendices slide recently for various reasons, so this is the perfect time to catch up, albeit at a leisurely pace.
  3. Other writing projects will continue as normal. This includes articles for this blog as well as my columns at DIY MFA and A Bibliophile’s Reverie. Hey, I can’t NOT write. Or, maybe it’s more like, I don’t know how to stop writing. 😉
  4. I’m going to write a special blog article about strategies for book titles. This was my original idea for “Chronicling The Craft: 115,000 Words.” However, the version I’m planning now has a twist – I’m going to share the title of my book! 😀  I actually didn’t have a title until 2 weeks ago, so it’s still very new and thrilling for me that I finally found something that (hopefully) works.
  5. I plan to start Draft #2 on April 10th. That’s the Friday after Easter. If I wait to start then, I won’t have to worry about conflicts between holiday preparations and creative projects – meaning less stress for myself (again, hopefully). Yay!

What will Draft #2 entail? Heavy revisions – and I mean, heavy. This story has evolved so much in the 2 years I’ve been working on it, and I totally wasn’t expecting to use 132K words to get there. Some of my priorities for the next stage include:

  • Improving numerous scenes (revising certain scenes, rewriting others from scratch)
  • Cutting down the word count (chopping unnecessary stuff, revising for efficiency and more precise word choice)
  • Deleting stuff that no longer works (a.k.a. slaying some darlings)
  • Checking the consistency of names, physical attributes, and other details

I’m not sure how long this next stage will take. It’s been a long time since I last revised a novel, so I won’t set a specific deadline or word count goal. That being said, I do hope to have a revised draft ready for beta-readers and critique partners before the end of 2015. We’ll have to wait and see how things go…

Writing Area Last Day

My writing area on the last day of Draft #1. Comfy, thanks to the chair and matching ottoman. Dangerous, thanks to the books on the floor that I could step on. Whoops…

The Future of “Chronicling The Craft”

I’m considering continuing Chronicling The Craft during the novel’s revision process, but I’d like some input from you – my readers – who have been following this series and encouraging me with your curiosity and support. So, here’s my question for you:

Would you like to see more Chronicling The Craft articles? These would include progress updates on the WIP as it’s being revised, combined with tips on revising and editing a novel. If your answer is “yes,” what would be a good frequency for posting the new articles? Maybe a certain number of chapters, a certain period of time (e.g., once a month), or a certain percentage completed (e.g., every 10 or 20 percent)? Let me know what you think by posting your comments below.

35 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: FIRST DRAFT – DONE!

  1. Wooohoooooo!!! *Breaks out the pom poms* You did it!! And here’s my ‘public’ happy dance lol!! You’re so patient and productive – it’s a real inspiration. So I say yes to more Chronicling the Craft – I like the idea of hints and tips for the revisions process… And I also like the idea of doing it every x% of the way… Taking a wee break from it is a great plan, especially with a date in mind to pick it up again – you deserve it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL!! Thank you, Sara! 😀 *starts dancing too* I can’t tell you how helpful your enthusiasm and encouragement has been.

      Writing this book has definitely been a test of patience, especially because my novel-writing time is limited right now to weekends and days off from work. So I’m relieved beyond belief that I’ve FINALLY reached this point. 🙂

      I’ll keep your input in mind re: future Chronicles. Let’s see what other readers say… But right now, it looks like it’s going to continue through the revision process. 😉

      Like

  2. Congrats!! Getting that idea down on ‘paper’ is one of he best things in the world. Now the next stage of fun can begin 😉 Great idea to let it rest for a while. That’s certainly something I’ve found that really helped me tackle the 2nd draft with enthusiasm.

    My two pennies: One of the things I’ve found really interesting (but don’t see that much of) is actual examples of before and after from the editing process. I’ve shared a few of mine and had great feedback. I’d love to see how your mind approaches your own work and how you improve things – do you go for clarity or style or rhythm? Do you layer in the description first? Do you rewrite or add/remove words? It is quite nervy putting actual words out there, but I found I learnt a lot about my own approach from sharing my own examples and seeing others.

    You did ask 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Colin! 😀

      Taking a break from the story is going to be weird, just because writing it has been a huge part of my life for a while. But I think it will be a welcome break, so I can focus on other things for a while (and not become a hermit).

      Oh, I know I asked. *lol* That’s a good idea, though. Doing a Before and After of a short excerpt from the novel and explaining what my intentions are for editing it. I’ll keep this in mind.

      How are you doing, btw? I haven’t seen anything new on your blog for a while. Are you using your author website more often now?

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  3. Congrats on finishing your first draft! I couldn’t agree more about the wide range of emotions that entails, but it’s so…fullfilling, isn’t it?

    I’m the same way when I finish a first draft(or even a second) I just want to take a break from it for a little while so I can come back with fresh eyes and all that.

    I’m really interested in this book title strategy post! Sometimes, I can come up with a name for my book just right away and it feels perfect, and other times I stress over it for months!

    I haven’t been following you for that long, but I can say I’d be interested in more of these posts about your revision journey and tips and everything. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Alex! 🙂 Yes, it’s absolutely fulfilling. When thinking about all the possible emotions you can feel when you finish a first draft, that’s the one that describes the milestone best.

      I started jotting notes today for the book title article. Hoping to have that posted in mid-March. We’ll see… Sometimes with the less “deadline-oriented” articles, they end up sliding a little bit. I guess the best I can say is… Stay tuned? *lol*

      And thanks again for stopping by, Alex. It’s always good to be other fantasy writers. We should be birds of a feather, and stick together, right? 😉

      Like

  4. Sara! I’ve just discovered your blog after following you on Twitter yesterday, but this was such a joy to read. There is nothing more exciting for me than seeing other writers kick butt (especially fantasy writers!) and your story sounds awesome. Congratulations on completing your first draft! I can’t wait to see what else is in store for you and your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!

    Congrats! This is fantastic news, and I look forward to seeing how your redrafting process goes…which of course means I’d love to see more “Chronicling the craft” updates in the future :D. All your plans for the “vacation” sound great to me, so I’ve nothing to add there.

    I’m looking forward to your article on titles, by the way. I still need to work out a title for my own book, so I’m keen to see what you’ll say on the topic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, TPG!! 😀

      Everyone who’s responded so far wants to see Chronicling The Craft continue, so I’m going to plan accordingly now. And I feel your pain in regards to titles. They’re brain-rackers, and painful ones. I haven’t referred to the title all this time because I honestly didn’t have one until 2 weeks ago. I hope you’ll find the article helpful once it’s live – and I have faith that you’ll find something that’s attention-grabbing and fitting.

      Like

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  7. Congratulations! Great work! I so understand that, “And NOW what do I do with my life?” kind of feeling. But it fades (as I’m sure you know) once you get into editing mode and realise how much work you still have ahead of you.

    I’d love to keep hearing your updates. And I’d also love to hear about your tips on titles – it’s one of my weaknesses.

    Good luck and great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ann! *sighs with relief*

      Yeah, the feeling does fade, but… it felt so strange this past weekend to be doing something other than writing the first draft. But it was nice to get back to those “appendices” I’d neglected for so long. They let think about the world itself, and not so much Eva’s story.

      You know, it seems like titles are something a lot of writers struggle with. I posed the question a couple weeks ago on Twitter, and most everyone who responded said that’s the toughest part of writing a novel. So, we’re not alone with that challenge.

      Like

  8. Congratulaaationnnns~!!! *throws confetti* *brings out a cake covered in delicious icing flowers* This is a moment to celebrate!
    Wow, 2 years’ worth of writing done; you did it! Your patience and perseverance has paid off.

    Okay, so definitely continue Chronicling, after either 10 or 20%.
    I’m so happy for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *mouth waters* Caaaaaaaaake. Is it yellow cake with chocolate frosting? Or chocolate cake with chocolate frosting? Ohhhh dear. Between this and the ice cream sundaes, I’m in so much trouble. *lol*

      On a more serious note, thanks so much, E. It really has been a test of patience, since I can’t seem to fit in novel-writing time except for on the weekends or days off from work. But I think believing in this story, and believing I can find a way to tell it well, has kept me going. And I’m so grateful it has. 🙂

      The Chronicles will definitely continue. I’m leaning towards maybe every 20% of the total page count, just so I don’t make things too demanding for myself. And I’d like to think this next stage won’t take as long as the drafting stage did…

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s half of both! 😀 Half white, half chocolate, and aaall of it creamy chocolate icing spread on top! Yummmm~~ I give only the best of the best cakes to my friends 😉

        I hope you are still enjoying your well-deserved break. I’m looking forward to following the Chronicles once you plunge back in and begin editing, but for now enjoy yourself 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • *jaw drops* I want that for breakfast. LOL! Seriously, it’s 9:40 am where I am right now, and I’m dying for this cake now. 😄

        It’s been a little strange so far. Not in a bad way, but I’ve gotten so used to reserving weekends for novel-writing sessions that it feels weird to be doing other things. I cleaned my bathroom last weekend and started catching up on world-building and character development documents for TKC (yes, now I’m teasing the title’s initials *winks*). In some ways, it felt good to be doing other things, but it’s been so long that I’m just not used to it. But I won’t complain, either. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • It would make the best breakfast! Aw man, I really want a slice right now too. 😄 I’m going to go hunt around my kitchen for a dessert now…
        World building and character development sound like good things to be focusing on. It’s not too much work, but it still keeps you involved in the story, and hopefully transitioning into the “editing stage” will be easier. Haha, now you have me guessing what TKC stands for 😀 Tropical Killer Cake? The Karaoke Crown? I don’t know! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I’m hoping, too. By staying in Eva’s world without actually working on the story, I’ll still be able to look at the story with fresh eyes without losing touch with it.

        Oooooh, what’s a Tropical Killer Cake?? Is it like pineapple upside cake, except with mangoes and papaya and coconut? Mmmmmm, yummmmmm…

        Unfortunately, no. Neither guess on the title is correct. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • TKC… I’ll have to keep pondering what it means! *determined face*
        Lol, Tropical Killer Cake is so deliciously awesome that it cannot exist in our world. Only within the pages of a book; it is too delicate and dangerously amazing for humankind to handle. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats on finishing your book! It feels amazing doesn’t it?! They say to let it sit for a while before you start editing, but I’d suggest that you keep writing like the sequel or just anything, because when I was done I took a ‘break’ and it really got me out of the habit.

    I know what you mean about revisions. I figured it out a while ago that only like 20% of my book is still the same as my rough draft.

    How did you find critique partners and beta readers? Not that I’m to that stage yet, but I’ve looked online but haven’t had much luck. Usually I edit for them and they do… nothing.

    I’d like to be kept posted on your revisions. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Molly!! 😀 It sure does feel amazing. Though I also feel a little lost, too. I’ve spent so many weekends working on it that it’s weird to NOT be working on it for a little while.

      No worries, I’m not stopping writing altogether while I’m on the novel break. 😉 Between the tea reviews, DIY MFA, this blog, and catching up on the world-building documents for the novel, I’ll be quite busy! And they’re all good reasons, too.

      I haven’t really “searched” for any beta-readers and critique partners yet. But several people have already told me they’d be interested in reading TKC (yes, the book title’s initials *wink*) when it’s ready for them. It’s a matter of finding the right people, I think. Two of them are close friends and fantasy fans who have given me honest and constructive feedback on my work before, so I trust they’ll give similar feedback on this novel. Others are writers whose manuscripts I’ve beta-read in the past (or will be shortly), and they’ve promised to return the favor.

      Now that I’m thinking about it, the process of finding critique partners and beta-readers could be a good future Chronicle. What do you think?

      The continued updates will definitely happen now. 😉 I’m going to post a quick Chronicle right before I start revising to let readers know about my Draft 2 plans.

      Like

  10. Congraaats =D Hey, I have The Emotion Thesaurus!!! My sister got it for me as a ‘well done’ for something… I think it was grades I got at uni or something i did… I can’t really remember. 😄 And I really want to read Graceling. Haha, I couldn’t help but immediately read the titles of the books you had on the floor! This is precisely why my TBR is so ridiculously large. =/ Good luck with the editing process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t the Emotion Thesaurus awesome? 😀 Do you also have Angela and Becca’s Positive Attributes and Negative Attributes Thesauri? Those are amazing resources, too.

      Absolutely loved Graceling. Fantastic kick-ass heroine, a good love story, and all-around a wonderfully told story. If you like the sounds of that, you should definitely read it!

      Like

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