Achievement Unlocked: First Draft

Earlier today I finished the first draft of my first fantasy novel.

Then I took a huge breath, listened to a little music, and thought to myself, “Okay, what’s next?” That should be the cover of every writing manual in the world, by the way.

Two obvious things come to my mind immediately. The first is that I know this novel is going to need a major rewrite in draft 2. I mentioned a while ago that I’m experimenting a bit with discovery writing – I did my worldbuilding and character development and came up with the skeleton of my plot, but the dialogue between characters and the nitty-gritty stuff I came up with on the fly. This proved interesting, as I discovered about two-thirds of the way through that there were some fundamental flaws with both my magic system and a couple of my major characters. These are flaws that I don’t think I would have discovered before putting words onto the page, and I could have wasted a lot of time making a detailed outline for an incredibly flawed draft. A lot of the professional writers I pay attention to say that your first draft is going to be largely shit. It’s the testing ground, after all, where you work out the big kinks. And man, does this novel have some.

So in terms of this specific project, major rewriting is definitely next.

The second obvious thing that comes to mind is what I’m going to focus on next. Just a week ago I outlined my summer writing plan, where I mistakenly assumed that I had several more weeks of writing to do on this first draft. So that opens up the next eight weeks considerably. I know I’m not going to jump right into the second draft; that’s not how my process works. Instead, I’ll be focusing on the short stories that I had lined up before, following the simple advice that Matt Moore gave me last week: “Don’t plan, but prioritize.” That won’t take me the whole summer – not even close, if my current productivity is any indication. So once those short stories are done, I’ll have to decide what the next thing to work on will be.

It might be draft 2 of this project. More likely, it’s going to be an entirely new novel idea, which I find I’m much more excited about – and, in my opinion, is a much stronger and more unique premise, in terms of both character and world.

But that’s a few weeks away. Right now, I’m going to bask in the afterglow of a completed project.

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