Thursday, 17 May 2012

The first draft of my novel is complete

The first draft of my novel is complete.  It’s a major milestone, and has taken me over two years to get to this point.  I can’t tell you how many words because the last three chapters are handwritten in my notebook.  This was how I broke the nexus of my writer’s block - by reverting to handwriting and turning off the internal editor (you know, that annoying little bastard that watches over your shoulder and declares everything is crap and you might as well give up.)

Seeing the words appear on the screen, as rubbish as they are, drove me to distraction.  I wanted to correct, or go further back in the story and correct logic flaws.  Instead, I carried my notebook everywhere and wrote at every opportunity.  Coffee shops, trains and swimming pools all became my new office.  Sometimes it would be a couple of paragraphs, sometimes two pages or more.

Please don’t get too excited about the status of my novel.  Whilst the ending of the first draft is a major milestone, there’s a long way to go.  I expect at least two major rewrites, each taking several months at my snail’s pace.  The first thing to fix is the logic flaws.  Second is the ‘point of view’ decisions made at various points, and this may lead to significant additional chapters being created.  Another flaw I expect to find is the writing style - I’ve learned much during the process and the early chapters will not be as well written as the later ones.

And there will be other flaws yet to be discovered.  

The major learning point of the first draft of my first novel is the age old truism - you don’t know what you don’t know.  No amount of reading or education could have prepared me for the challenge of writing approximately 100,000 words, coherently and with meaning (and any other facets required to entice people to read the bloody thing).  And so far, I haven’t achieved it...but at least I know that.

For those of you that have written a novel, and can remember the first draft, what was your experience?  What did you learn?

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