1. MeWriter
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    MeWriter Member

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    First novel...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MeWriter, Aug 9, 2015.

    Hello fellow writers!

    Last night I have (finally!) finished first draft of my very first novel...It feels good. I am happy, joyful, satisfied, but on the other side I feel exhausted and empty. But yes, mostly I feel overwhelmed by this achievement...maybe small step for someone else, but not so small for me. This is the longest (by far!) story I have written and successfully completed.

    I had started this story last year in October, then stopped writing for about 5 months (lose of motivation perhaps, writing block,...) and then I started again this year in April. I have written 67,487 words. I know that it is probably awful bad, so it needs a lot of work (well, stories are rarely perfect after first draft).

    The questions I have are: what now? Put it aside for a couple of weeks, then print it out and start polishing, revising and rewriting? In the meantime should I write some short stories or maybe even start a new novel project?

    Thank you guys for any answers!
     
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  2. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    I'm having the same thing; this evening I finished the first draft of my own first novel. Mine's a little longer (at 89,000 words) and has taken me a little longer to write (my PhD got in the way!).

    My plan for the immediate future is to go back and tweak the things I know need tweaking. Some things over the months I've changed my mind on, so some things need changing a little in terms of tone or location, and that's a relatively easy thing to do. Other things like this include making a few more references to other characters so that it feels a lot less like they pop up suddenly for a few chapters and then disappear again, etc.

    After that, I'll let a few people read it from beginning to end. This should give me a few weeks to get feedback before I launch into a full redraft.

    I've already started work on/got distracted by my next project anyway, so that's what I'll be doing while I'm getting feedback. Whatever works for you - if you're worried about getting distracted by a new novel project and not wanting to go back to redraft, then a short story might be the way forward.

    Good luck!
     
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  3. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    Good for you--wow! Would have to feel great. Not there yet myself so can't speak from experience on this, but would suggest you walk away from it for a few days, then find some readers b/4 you begin rewrites (I'm assuming you did plenty of revisions as you were going along). Come back to it with a fresh look. (In the meantime read the entries in the summer writing contest and vote!)
     
  4. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Generally it is suggested to let your manuscript rest for a few months before you really try to review it, your too close to the forest to see the trees at this point is the concept I have always thought this referenced in other posts. Good work getting that first draft done, many travel the path but few succeed, me included.
     
  5. Elena Schmetterling
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    Elena Schmetterling Member

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  6. tupbup
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    tupbup Member

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    Well done that's a great achievement! I agree with the above, leave it a couple of months, the longer the better. Write something else. Go outside and see the daylight you have missed out on. Read a book! Something trashy that has nothing to do with what you have written.

    I would suggest when you go back to it, take an empty notebook (my favourite thing ever), read through your draft as though it was someone else's book you were reading, and make notes. What doesn't make sense? Any extra plot lines that spring to mind that you think could be included. Draw a margin on your notebook if you don't already have one and make a note of which chapter the question or thought sprang from. Also detail important physical traits on your characters. Everything down to eye colour, which cheek the scar is on, which finger they break throughout the story. All will be relevant when you come to check for continuity. Also be harsh on yourself. If there's a phrase you think sounds clunky, make a note of it.

    When you are ready to start your second draft, start a new document. Don't overtype the old one. Save that as it is. Print it off so you can see all your hard work at a glance and show it off to anyone who comes to your house! Write the story out fresh and keep your notebook handy so you know which bits to look out for.

    Of course there are probably better ways to redraft a novel. I just like using notebooks and printing off what I have written so far :)
     
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  7. Vlad Motchoulski
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    Vlad Motchoulski Member

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    Congratulations on writing your first novel. I have written several short stories and many poems and songs during various times in my life, but I have not yet tackled the challenge of writing a novel, although I plan to some time soon. The posts above offer some good advice, I will try to do some of the same when I complete my first novel.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with everybody who responded above—especially about getting some distance on the project before you start editing—and also want to pass on my congratulations for having finished. I remember how I felt when I finally finished mine. My big grin, which went on for days, pretty much said it all.

    Can I give you a wee tip for editing? In addition to the notebook that @tupbup suggested, you might want to print off your manuscript so you work off a print copy. For some odd reason, it's easier to spot areas that need improvement on a paper copy. By the same token, you're less likely to make impulsive changes, or tweak things when you should be looking at the overall picture first.

    When I printed off my MS (which was helluva lot longer than yours! Several huge trees died for me....) I reduced my font size to Times 12-point. I then converted to single-spacing rather than double, and then formatted the MS into two columns, so it looked more like a magazine than a book.

    Not only does this cut down on the number of sheets of paper you use, but it becomes easier to edit, because you have three margins to write in, rather than two. Single-spacing works when your column width is only half a page, so that really reduces the paper output.

    WHATEVER else you do, make sure you keep several digital copies of your MS in several different places and on different media. (A couple of flash drives, the cloud, an email to yourself, a hard disk—as well as the device you actually write on.)

    Always do backups of any new work. And always 'duplicate' any chapter you're making changes to, and keep the old version intact. Never revise your only original copy! You may want to return to an older version, or rescue parts of it that you deleted. I always date each revision, and keep all the different versions until I am absolutely sure I don't want the old versions any more. Better to be safe than sorry. Just make sure you organise all these revisions with dates, chapter names, etc, so you don't lose track of what you're doing.

    Editing and polishing is just as much fun as the original writing. It's a different kind of creativity, but you still have total control. And every change you make should improve your work, which is satisfaction in itself.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
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  9. Cappy and Pegody
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    Cappy and Pegody Member

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    It's a wonderful feeling completing it. When I typed The End(yea I really did it) It was with a huge sigh of relief and feeling of accomplishment. It's a big advantage having a Pegody(wife and co author). She took over and rewrote adding color commentary. descriptive, and generally fleshing it out and making it more well rounded and less technical(sci-fi). When she was done I was fresh eyes for a joint reread while we had a friend beta read. Anyways congratulations you are getting to the fun part. Having published 4 days ago we know how ya feel and promise it just gets more exciting. :)
     
  10. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a big step. Now that you know you can finish a draft, you can work towards producing something that is publishable, either a later draft of this work or an entirely new piece.
     
  11. Cappy and Pegody
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    Cappy and Pegody Member

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    It's just one armature's opinion but I do not recommend leaving it to write other books. To me its a dangerous habit to get into. Finish what you start. I have a story I wrote back when I was a teen ager 40 years later it is unfinished in a trunk somewhere.
     
  12. MeWriter
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    MeWriter Member

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    Thanks everyone for kind responses! It means a lot to me! And yes, I am really, really happy to finally completed my first novel. It has been one of my biggest writing goals.

    I will probably print off the whole document, then leave it for a month or two and then come back to it. Meanwhile, I am going to write some short stories and read some good books. I will most likely start to seek material and ideas for new novel, but first I am going to concentrate on this piece I have just finished.

    Thanks @jannert for great tips! I am going to use them for sure! And yes, I really hope that editing and polishing is just as fun as writing itself.

    Again, thanks everyone, I appreciate all the support and kind words!
     

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