Last month, I finished my first draft of my first novel! It was fantastic, and I’m so happy to accomplish that goal.
Several of my friends and family want to know when they can read my novel. It is really very sweet of them, but they don’t understand how bad my first draft is. Some reply that I’m likely too hard on myself, and then I tell them I end one chapter with, “And she killed him and rescued Sienna.” They stop then usually.
There are structural problems, like my first act taking up 40% of the story. My prose is weak as I don’t ever feel comfortable describing things. I dropped and added characters at will in the story when I decided it needed to change. There are serious continuity errors, with one character being dead and then alive and then dead again. Poor guy.
This is normal and expected! I knew it would happen when I was writing my first draft. It is how I managed to write the first draft, as I stopped worrying about making it perfect and just focused on getting it done. Many published authors talk about this aspect of the first draft. I’d say they agree with me, but the reality is I discovered they are right.
So, what’s a good engineer to do? Revise. I made a spreadsheet, because what other software would you possibly use on a writing project? I outlined my story with all the scenes in one column and a variety of arcs, information, and plot lines in other columns. I used this to find all the gaping holes.
Then I created another tab on the same spreadsheet and revised that outline so it would fill the holes. I deleted scenes. I added more depth to different characters. I decided when that one guy was going to die.
The other step I took this week was to sign up for a class on writing. Before starting this adventure, I had not seen the inside of a classroom for any sort of writing in almost twenty years. In March, I’ll be headed to Dallas for a week-long class on prose with David Farland.
I also started another novel. And by “starting,” I mean I had the idea for another novel. I’ve written down all the fun details as they come to me. It’ll give me something to work on while I’m between stages on this novel. It also sounds way better than my current novel, but I’m told that is to be expected.
Most importantly, I’ve been having fun. This isn’t my day job and I’m not making any money from it, so it is just a very time-consuming hobby. Hobbies should be fun! I can’t wait to learn more!
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