Completing the first draft of my first novel has been a rush. It took me a full five months of writing (plus a three month hiatus) to finish this draft. It was difficult, but perhaps not as much of a mountain as I made it out to be in my mind. Also, I went into this in a rush of enthusiasm about last year’s NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have a plan, outline, or any idea as to how to go about writing a novel length fiction. I started with four character sketches, some notes I’d made over the years, and a few pages of world building. My second draft will be almost a complete re-write.
I’m not unhappy about any of this, but I’m already thinking about what I can do to make the next novel writing experience a better one. This draft is way too long to be as rough as it is. There is a lot I have to wade through.
Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about as I’ve been writing this first draft:
- Need better world-building: For world building, I had been daydreaming about this story and its setting for so long, I figured that the world building would be easy and automatic. So, I didn’t write down a lot of my world building. I quickly realized that it is one thing to visualize your story and an altogether different thing to write it. Next time, I want to make sure I have the magic worked out (assuming there is magic) beforehand. I also want to have better character sketches and make some sort of list of key points that make my world special. My initial thought was that I needed to know more about what happened in the story to complete the world building exercise. I still think that’s true for me, but a little more information at the start would make the writing flow smoothly and save me time in the re-write.
- Need some sort of outline: I’m not an outline kind of gal. I knew how my story began and a few of the major points, but I think some sort of outline would have helped, especially in the middle. I think I became bogged down in getting from the beginning to the middle because I wasn’t sure where my story was going. A high level plot outline, would help me with pacing.
- Need to think more about the plot structure: Kind of goes along with the need for an outline. I’m studying up on story structure and plotting for my re-write. I think having a better idea of a successful plot structure and sketching out a preliminary diagram with key plot points will help me. Much like the outline, it should help keep me on task, allow me to build appropriate suspense/tension, and keep the pacing tight. In the end, this should make for a more compelling story, and once again, make the re-write a little easier.
I'm already thinking about the next novel, so I'm going to implement the above ideas as a trial. I'm sure the process will continue to evolve.