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.
When I typed the final words and hit “Save” for the last time, I did this.
Then this happened.
And then, because it had taken longer than I’d expected to reach the end, I felt like doing this:
Finally, since I’d skipped lunch and it was nearly dinnertime, I felt like doing this:
*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.
So, what are my plans now that Draft #1 is done? Here’s what I’m thinking:
- 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…
- 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.
- 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. 😉
- 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.
- 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…
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.