Finishing the First Draft & the Myth Known as “The End” (Another Short Update)

I’m super happy to be writing this post. For so many years, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to say it, and now I can.

Ladies and gents, I have finished writing a novel.

Sure, I’ve started and finished stories before. But the majority of them were novellas or short stories. The only other novel I’ve written was one I began writing last year, Deception. I never completed it; it’s still sitting in a folder on my computer marked “Current WIPs.”

But, two days ago, I finished my current manuscript when I should have been studying for school. In a whirlwind, six months of planning and outlining and five months of work was completed.

Guys, look at how long it is. I couldn’t even breathe.

Final page/word count for the first draft of my WIP. :)
Final page/word count for the first draft of my WIP. 🙂 (In case you can’t read the screen, that’s 373 pages [374, but one page is a title page] and 111,328 words.)
When I started this book, I had two goals:

  1. to get the manuscript to 90,000
  2. to finish the first draft, because so many people start books and never finish them, and I didn’t want to add myself to that group.

Now, nearly a year after beginning to develop the idea, I’ve accomplished both, and exceeded the former by over 21,000 words.

But I’m not finished. Not even close. I’d like to take this story to the next step: querying. For those who don’t understand the author/publishing jargon, this means I want to try and get my manuscript published. This will involve query letters, synopses, summaries, many, many edits, a heap of rejection letters from agents, and the eventual but inevitable losing of my mind.

There’s a part of me that looks at everything querying will demand–the stress, the criticism, the amount of work and effort–and hesitates. This part of me wants to keep my first draft close and never share it or change it. Sure, there are some run-on sentences (a lot, actually). Yeah, there are way too many adverbs and unnecessary modifiers. Character motives and arcs might be sketchy. World-building might be shabby. But am I allowed to let these issues be just because the story is dear to my heart?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Once I’m able to, I’m going to print the whole thing and stick it in a drawer. On May 20th, I’ll be able to pull it out and start the editing process (basically, rip it to shreds). When I feel I’ve done everything I can to improve it, I’ll give it to a few of my peers, and will have to take the criticism they’ll offer me.

It’s not going to be easy. But neither was writing this story.

I’ll keep you updated. I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. 😉

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