I am happy to report that today I completed the first draft of my novel. 105,813 words. Hurray!
My plan was to finish by Christmas, but the novel turned out to be a little longer than I’d expected so the beginning of January is fine by me.
I’m going to take the rest of the week off. I might actually read a book for fun, tidy the house, try and exercise my blobby body and treat myself to a few episodes of The Bridge. Then, next week, I will sit down and read the whole damn caboodle beginning to end.
I have no doubt this will be an utterly painful and disheartening process. Whilst reading, pen in hand, I may bear in mind the following quotes from famous writers about the revision process.
“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” — Elmore Leonard, Newsweek, 1985
“Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.” – Samuel Johnson
“Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what it is one is saying.” — John Updike
“Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” — Raymond Chandler
Cutting back seems to be the key mantra, particularly those sections of which you are most proud. According to Stephen King, the magic formula for redrafting is 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%. But whilst I am sure cuts will be necessary, I know there is also more that needs to be added. The last few chapters, for example, are severely under-written as I cast aside all but the basic nuts and bolts in my desperation to reach the end. And there are additions to be made to the early sections of the novel in order to make sense of plot developments later on.
However, at this stage, I shall try not to be too vicious with my pen. I shall try to stomach the ragged edges and the Janet and John prose. The main purpose of this reading will be to find out if I have a basic story that hangs together, more or less. If the answer is, as I hope it will be, a cautious yes, then the first draft will have done its job.
After that, let the real work begin.