Four months and almost 80,000 words later, I have finally finished my first novel! I know it needs a bit of editing—I need to do read-through and make sure there aren’t any typos and inconsistencies—and I may cut and/or add scenes, but for all intents and purposes, it is finished.
I wrote the first draft of this novel during the 2013 NaNoWriMo. At the end, I was so sick of it I put it away and didn’t look at it for eight months. Then, in August of this year, right after I started my job and was looking for a fun project to do outside of work (which was not very fun at that point), I decided to revise this novel.
The idea for this book, though, actually came to me a long time ago. I wrote a few preliminary scenes when I was fifteen and have thought of the book off and on over the years.
What I learned
I learned a lot from writing this book. Namely, that it’s okay to cut stuff. In the original NaNo draft, I had a ton of flashbacks. After reading through it in early August, I decided the flashbacks didn’t add much to the book, so I scrapped them all. I also cut out one facet of the main character. Originally, she played viola, but I decided that also didn’t add anything or really fit with who she was, so that didn’t make it to my next draft.
In fact, some of the writing in the NaNo draft was so unsatisfactory that I just ended up rewriting the entire thing. For me, that was easier and produced a better finished product than if I had tried to revise the draft I already had.
Outlines? What outlines?
I didn’t outline this novel at all. Not one bit. The only thing I did remotely related to outlining was keep a running list of important stuff as I wrote: characters’ names and physical appearances, ages, how old they were when important stuff happened, etc. But I did not use an actual outline. I love using outlines to write nonfiction because they help organize my thoughts. However, I cannot write fiction from outlines. I just can’t. It completely cramps my style and the final product ends up sounding dead and dreadfully boring.
The writing challenge
The thing that helped me the most was the Writing Challenge (which I’ve written about here). Having a group of people on Twitter who were also trying to get their 500 words a day in, while working actual jobs, was instrumental in helping me finish. To everyone who’s been doing the Writing Challenge with me, thank you, and I’m looking forward to writing with you in the future.
So what’s next?
Your guess is as good as mine! I am torn over whether to finish my other works-in-progress first, as I have been planning to do, or write the sequel to this novel I just finished. (Yes, it is a series. Get ready for the awesomeness.) I’m in no rush to decide, though. It’s the holidays so I have a lot of time off work to just sit around and chill if I want to.
And of course, once this book comes out, I will announce it here on this blog so my readers will be the first to know. 🙂