A Novel Approach

This time last week I was in a state of something close to euphoria. The reason? I had finally completed the first draft of my novel.

I had known the moment was coming. Although I am usually a planner, I had worked through the novel with only a rough idea as to what was to happen. There were character sketches and plot points at certain stages of the process along with flexibility which worked well. But as I approached the final quarter, I could feel a bit of reluctance creep in.

My creative writing to this point has mainly been in the space of short stories. There were several times throughout the writing of the novel that I was secretly pleased that I had made it this far. But it was also a bit daunting. I know, you see, that this is only the first draft. I will need to edit, to carve out bits, to write new sections. As I wrote I had to battle the urge to edit as I wrote. But once I started to tinker with the structure, the house of cards might tumble. Instead, I channeled the advice listed under ‘Finish the damn novel‘ and finished the damn novel.

It is imperfect. Some writers are famous for writing scores of drafts before they have the final, polished gem. Others seem to be able to attain perfection with hardly an edit. As the logical conclusion to the story approached part of me was wondering if the character arc development was enough. Should I up the ante for a character by doing this, or tweaking that, or is something entirely different required?

It would be easy to spend my writing time devouring the millions of words of writingΒ advice regarding what to do now I’ve finished my draft. Instead, I’ve paraphrased Stephen King in my head and I’m going to let it sit for a few weeks. I have a copy of the draft printed and ready to edit, but I’ve resisted the impulse to pull out a pen and start scrawling amendments. It needs to breathe a bit. As do I.

There are other writing projects that I am keen to get started on, chunkier jobs that just seemed too much to take on in addition to finishing a novel. So that is the approach that I plan to take for now.

Do you have a break of sorts between larger projects?

[Photo: a glimpse inside the pavilion at the Hydro Majestic, Medlow Bath]

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13 thoughts on “A Novel Approach

  1. CONGRATS ON FINISHING YOUR FIRST DRAFT.

    Seriously, that deserves major kuddos. It isn’t the easiest thing to accomplish, especially when self-doubt or fears try to creep in along the way. Or when you have the impulse to edit throughout and have to force yourself to continue, even knowing that what you have just written and slaved over may get cut a few months from now, as the true test approaches: editing. Hell, putting it all daunting like that, it’s a surprise any of us can finish a novel when we have all of this mental baggage haunting us throughout the entire process.

    But you did.

    So clap yourself on the back and give yourself a break! Both you and your book deserve it. I didn’t realize that you were “supposed” to wait to edit between drafts, but doing that now, it makes so much more sense. It gives you time to start working on different projects and keep your creativity flowing, yet gives your draft time to breathe and grow so that, when you go to tackle it later on, you come back refreshed and as close as a new reader as you can, being the creator.

    Congrats again and good luck as you continue your journey! We’re all rooting for you! πŸ™‚

    • I can’t thank you enough for your response, for your support and enthusiasm – it was such a delight to read your words. It felt so good to type ‘the end’ even though it isn’t really, and I even wandered around with a goofy smile for a day or two. And maybe I’m smiling now just thinking about it. Thank you for reminding me that it is an achievement to reach this point – it means a lot to me and your words make me feel like I’m not alone but travelling in fine company – thanks again πŸ’.

      • *squee* Of course! When I finished my first first draft, I remember writing “the end” and I was shaking and laughing and crying all at the same time. I looked like a maniac, in retrospect, but I was just so excited and so proud; just as you should be! I love that you are keeping us updated on your journey and I hope to continue to support you throughout it. Keep up that goofy grin. You deserve it! πŸ˜€

  2. This is wonderful news and an achievement indeed! The polishing shall begin 😊. Am looking forward to hearing of your progress. Ten bunches of flowers are in order πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’πŸ’

    • Thank you so much! At the time I thought it was a big deal but then, as per usual, life rolls on. Thank you for reminding me that it did matter – I appreciate your kind words 😊.

  3. Congratulations on completing your first novel! That’s a huge accomplishment. And I agree that it’s best to take a rest before tackling the editing. After a break, you will probably see it with fresh eyes and have a clearer idea of the changes, if any, that you want to make.

    • Thank you, Ann, for your kind words. I am hoping that a break will give me a fresh perspective and some clarity, and I’m sure my mind will continue tinkering away in the background with thoughts for improvement. Thank you again for your response 😊.

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