Construction of a Novel: First Draft!

Well, that took long enough. I began this particular novel-writing journey around five years ago. Yup. It’s only taken me half a decade to wring out a complete draft. Argh. I did not envision such a drastic length of time, and I certainly didn’t plan for it to take this long, but various factors contributed to it taking vastly longer than I expected.

Short stories kept tempting me with their shiny new ideas and relatively instant gratification and the lure of having things on sub. I wrote lots of them. I sold many. This is an excellent thing. But the novel was languishing.

I had ridiculous, intertwining themes and shifting ideas and at times felt like I was trying to knit a Fair Isle blanket with all different weights of yarn and needle sizes. Which, if you’re not a knitter, is a probably meaningless analogy.  But yeah. There were so many things going on and they did not cooperate easily.

And I wrote the whole thing by the seat of my pants, which is not advisable. I never had an outline. I barely knew where I was heading half the time. My characters kept getting themselves into unforeseen situations and then staring at me going ‘Okay, now what?’ as if I had some kind of insight. Pfft. I wrangled a story out of this thing, and I think it’s a workable story, and there are parts of it I’m really proud of, but gah. The most important lesson I learned from this novel is to NEVER PANTS NOVELS, EVER, JUST DON’T DO IT.

So I have a draft, and completing it was a delirious thing. And now the work of refining and polishing and figuring out how to untangle the messy parts begins, and this time I’m really looking forward to it, because it has taken me so long to get to this point. It’s rough right now, but it can only get better from here.

YES.

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