Sunday, May 14, 2017

First Draft Completed !

I finally finished writing the first draft of my fantasy novel. It was a long road, but one that I enjoyed quite a bit. I haven't written a work this long in many year.  it did feel good to sit down with a long story and let it unfold.

Here are some stats for those who are interested, and for posterity.

Started prep work on August 1, 2016.
Started novel work on August 19, 2016
Completed first draft on May 9, 2017
134,016 Words in First Draft
21 Chapters with a prologue and epilogue that are both about half a page long.

There was a lull in there around December and January where I didn't work very much on the novel. I would probably have finished it in March or so if I had stuck with my schedule from NaNoWriMo. I'm curious to see if the break affected the writing at all.

I ran into my usual problem with long fiction. I started off full of enthusiasm and burned through the first third or so. After that it became a bit harder to work through. The final third was difficult because I had several action sequences. I find those very challenging to write because I am very conscious that I could be overwriting them. I usually end up just throwing down a bunch of stuff and figuring that I can work it all out in the second draft.

This  novel probably had the largest number of main characters in it since my first novel. That first novel was written back in the late 90s and was filled with youthful excitement and insanity. Kind of funny to go back and read now. But I kept piling on characters, and since it was inspired by anime series of the day, some of the characters and plot lines were just bizarre and in conflict with each other.

This time I worked out backgrounds for my eight primary characters, as well as some history about the main location of the story. I think that helped to have that all fully realized before I dove in. I didn't reference my "story bible" too often, but the work spent there made it quite clear in my head.

I am a bit worried that ending might feel anticlimactic. I also think that one of my characters came across as a bit too stereotypical. I'll probably have to do some work with her on the next pass. I'm looking forward to rereading it.

But I'm going to follow Mr. King's advice and let the story sit for about a month or so. I've done this in the past and it really does help when you go back and reread it. In the meantime I think I might work on some shorter fiction. Been a long time since I tackled a short story or two. While I was working on this novel, I actually had a couple of ideas I jotted down (that always happens, and they always seem better then what you are working on at the time).

But first time to celebrate.


Richard Bellush said...

Congrats. Yes, I agree that one’s vision is a little blurry immediately upon finishing a first draft. It helps to rest the eyes before starting on a second.

One of the great things about modern tech is how much less tedious it has made rewrites and edits. When everything was typed (or handwritten) on paper, rewriting a single sentence meant redoing an entire page if not more. Back in college I let a lot of things slide that I would have preferred to rephrase because it was too much trouble and there was too little time. Shakespeare – a somewhat better writer than I – notoriously hated doing it. “Hamlet” as written, for example, runs 5 hours, but nobody stages a 5 hour “Hamlet.” He didn’t. He staged a version half that length just as we do today; we don’t have his stage notes so we don’t know exactly what he did, but he probably just crossed out chunks on copies of the standard published version. Nowadays we can focus less on the mechanics and more on the verbiage.

Roman J. Martel said...

That's a good point. I had the pleasure of writing on a typewriter for only a few assignments in Junior High and High School. In fact my term paper for Junior year was on an old Mac. My teacher actually thought I was trying to impress her by delivering a computer printed paper with perfect margins and the like.

One of the first full pieces of fiction I wrote was a sprawling fantasy story for the school literary magazine. It seemed short to me, but when I finally saw the full magazine, i realized my work was about a long as the magazine. In any case, the whole thing was typed on an electric typewriter, which was slightly easer to use than an old manual one, but yeah, swapping sentences around would have been nearly impossible. I do love writing on a computer. :)