Completing My First Draft: Three Things I’ve Learned

 

Two weeks ago today, I had a fabulous evening.

Late on that Friday afternoon, I typed the last word of the last sentence of the last chapter of my Work In Progress. It felt wonderful! What a sense of satisfaction filled me as I raised my glass of Cabernet and toasted to my awesomeness. What an accomplishment! I spent the rest of the evening, and well into the night, celebrating, mentally patting myself on the back and grinning like an idiot.

My euphoria lasted about as long as the hangover. Over the next couple of days as planned, I reviewed a few of the writing tips and tricks I had bookmarked for my upcoming revision and editing process, and I crashed back to sober reality. I realized there was still plenty of work ahead, and instinctively I know certain areas have to be improved, rearranged, and completely rewritten, and then there’s my iPad with an app full of collected notes, jockeying to make it into the finished product as well.

But that’s okay. Every writer knows the first rough draft is exactly that: a first run, a rough copy, and yes, some of it is just plain shit. But in among the steaming heaps that stank, I knew there were jewels just waiting to be polished, the little jewels that make it all worthwhile.

Here are three chief concepts I believe every writer, who truly wants to be a writer, needs to remember.

1. No one wants to read about a Goody Two Shoes. If I expect readers to keep turning the pages, my characters have to be flawed. Whether that makes you like them, or love to hate them, depends on the types of flaws they embody – and maybe it depends on the sort of person you are, and what types of characters you are drawn to and like to read about. As important as plot may be, really, it’s all about the characters.

2. If you aren’t having any fun while you write, I don’t know how you will ever make it as a writer. A writer writes because she wants to, she has to, regardless of recognition or book sales. The fulfilment is in the process. And it’s a hard process. The best piece of advice I read about writer’s block was to put the manuscript aside and try penning a poem, or exploring another creative endeavor.

3. You have to want to write another book as soon as you’re finished the one you are now writing, The sweet possibility of a sequel keeps whispering in my ear, and that excites me. If I do write a sequel, however, it doesn’t mean the first one will depend on it. The novel I’m writing now will be able to stand alone in its own right. Then there are the flashes of inspiration for other book ideas that come during my writing, to which I can refer and develop when needed.

I’m waiting another couple of weeks to give myself more objectivity, before I start revisions. In the meantime there are plenty of good books and other reading material that beg for my attention.

Then on to the Second Draft!

Please share your thoughts with me about your Work in Progress. 🙂

 

The Creation of a Novel: a Progress Report

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I Love Book Club!

I have to say that I am so enjoying the local book club a couple of friends and I started this past January. Just two nights ago, our group gathered for another meeting to review our latest selection. And such a lively, thought-provoking discussion it was.  We were happy as well to welcome a new member to our fold.  Delighted to have you aboard, Kathy!

To become a member of our little group, the only real requirements are a pure love of reading and a willingness to share your opinions. But that is where most of our similarities end. What a diverse group of individuals we are! From a teacher, to a couple of retired nurses; from a minister’s wife, to a self-proclaimed atheist; a homemaker/blogger (yours truly), a designer, and even some artists, we are a varied lot. Some are originally from the area, but most of us aren’t.
Naturally, people being what they are, we often begin with the book in question, but soon veer off on tangents, taking the discussion to unexpected areas where voicing your two cents worth is welcome on any number of topics. When we have come together, we have shared thoughts and positions on racism, the medical profession, capital punishment, mental illness, greed, and crime, just to name a few.

Our provincial library has been a god-send in facilitating our passion:  it has made available a long list of “book club kits” that we borrow from each month. All titles are either award-winning, well-reviewed, or both, and provide much variety of topics and tastes. Seldom does everyone love the book currently being discussed, but that often generates the most dynamic debates!

Here is what we have read and reviewed so far:

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

Coming up on our foreseeable agenda is:
Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (a fellow Newfoundlander)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Of course, a happy by-product of Book Club is making new and interesting friends, and in my opinion, friends so interesting that  they are usually reading other books, sometimes more than one at a time, in between our club picks.

Book worms, unite!  Happy reading, everyone!