There are not enough days in the week, hours in the day. Much of my time this year has been taken up with the writing and editing of my novel.
It took me around six months to write the first draft, a month and a half to rewrite the 2nd draft, and two weeks to complete the 3rd draft. Next week, I will finish the 4th draft. Never having written a novel before, this whole process has been completely new to me. I have read about each stage, looking for clues and tips on how to proceed, but in the end it has been an organic process driven by my intuition and what I saw needed to be done next.
I began sketchily, writing episodically, but the more work I did on the novel, the clearer my direction became – not just in the storyline itself, but also in how to proceed with editing and re-writing. To be honest, I had dreaded the rewriting and drafting stages. I had no idea of where to begin. The story seemed so huge, so unruly, that by the time I got to the end of writing it, I had forgotten much of the detail of the beginning. The work on the manuscript began, therefore, by reviewing the whole story, identifying the plot, subplot and backstory (What are Plot, Subplot and Backstory) and tracking the characters (Track Your Characters). I used Post-It notes for this and created quite a wall decoration! (6 First Draft Revision Steps).
2nd draft: Once I had refreshed my memory of the story and had identified gaps, I rewrote the whole manuscript, taking in feedback at this point from my reviewer.
3rd draft: With the 2nd draft completed, there were still some lingering issues within the novel to resolve – some pieces of information that needed to be made clearer or connected to other sections in the story, there were also simple omissions, like names of specific herbs or streets, that needed a quick research. Adding finer detail was much of the work of the 3rd draft.
At this point I realised I could keep rewriting and touching up forever, making the story more and more complex until the whole thing was terribly overworked and much less engaging as a result. It feels like the right time to leave the manuscript alone for a while.
I have a group of reviewers lined up to read the manuscript over the Christmas period, so ensuring the manuscript is proofread at this point is important. This is my job for next week.
The plan then is not to look at the manuscript over Christmas but wait for feedback from my team of reviewers…2014 could begin with yet another rewrite, but I promise myself only one more draft to address any issues my reviewers identify and then it’s done!
If you are interested in writing your own novel, read my post: Skills Needed to Write a Book.
It has been an incredible year of writing. As of next week I will drop from twice weekly blogging on this site to blogging only once a week. I will, however, blog weekly at my business site A Worded Life: Writing and Editing Services. Make sure you subscribe to that site to get those posts. My blog here will continue to address my adventures in writing and will happen on Mondays. My blog at my business site (Flow of Words) will be about writing and editing, but with a more professional tone and content and will happen on Fridays. So you will continue to get two posts form me a week, just from two different blogs!
I am available for freelance work next year, so contact me with your writing and editing needs. Be sure to get in quick to secure your preferred place in my calendar!
Photo credit: Proofread