Saturday, 24 October 2020

Finished First Draft

I’ve just finished the first draft of my new novel. For three months, I’ve been writing every day. I've gained a new dimension to my writing and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. The first draft is 155,000 words. That’s an average of 1700 words a day. Although, some days I only wrote a few hundred words. My maximum in one day was 4000 words. And that evening, my brain was well and truly fried. When I set out I didn’t really have a plot. All I had was a sketch of a main character and the notion that the novel would involve some crime and some romance. I started writing and just kept going, making it up as I went along. Now I have a raft of characters, two settings that are twenty years apart, plenty of interwoven plot lines and enough loose ends to set the scene for another novel.

Over the past three months, I’ve neglected almost all other things, including this blog. Some days I only wrote the novel, ate and slept. My inbox overflowed, I didn’t deal with correspondence, I didn’t engage in social media and even Ginger Dog began to wonder who I was.

Now I’ve got to the end of the novel, I must admit I’m feeling a slight sense of loss. But this is only the first draft and there is plenty still to do. As I went along, I made changes to the characters and the various plot lines. But I didn’t go back and alter earlier chapters, because that would have interrupted the momentum of writing the story. I just kept a set of notes on the alterations that I would have to make. These now run to twenty pages.

All the advice I’ve seen recommends that you leave the first draft for a number of weeks before you begin to make any alterations. You need to look at the first draft again with fresh eyes, so that you can more clearly see the flaws and the opportunities to improve it.  After all, 155,000 words makes the novel a bit longer than average. So I’ll probably need to cut some of the characters and the plot lines too. That won’t matter too much if it improves the novel. Indeed, when you’ve got to the end, you’re better able to work out how the story should start and unfold.

This is a good time for a gap before beginning work on the second draft. When I began the novel in late July, I was also making final corrections to the manuscript of my second poetry collection, ‘The Skylark’s Call.’ My book will shortly be published by Dempsey & Windle and I now have plenty of work to do for that.