WIP: First first draft finished

I’ve just been reading a blog post by someone who has just sent off his first novel to a publisher and is waiting with bated breath to hear back. His first novel is 330,000 words long. I’d suggest he unbates his breath because that one is going to take one helluva long time for anyone to even try picking it up off the slush pile. This massive tome is apparently the first of a trilogy, all volumes of a similar length.

If I was in the business of giving advice I’d say with a million words you have the makings of not so much a trilogy as a ten volume series. Chop that first volume into three, write it up properly and sub the first partโ€”it will have a much better chance of being read. I won’t pass on that advice, but I am going to act on it myself.

This year during NaNoWriMo I wrote 58,500 words of my WIP. I already had 19,000. I’ve since written another 23,000. When I passed the 100,000 word mark I stopped, and made a detailed plan of what comes nextโ€”there’sย  an awful lot. This is just the skeleton and there will be a lot of fleshing out goes on before it’s finished. Problem is, it’s historical, so there is a certain amount of story that can’t be left out. What I choose to add to fill in the gaps in the histories is all extra.

So I’ve decided to chop it into volumes and go back to fill out what is now volume one. The great thing is, at the stroke of a copy and paste I can say I’ve finished the first first draft! There will be a second one before it becomes a true first draft, but it’s such a morale booster to be able to say I’ve written to the end of the first book. It will mean adding to the story, adding more historical detail and changing the balance of the characters. But that’s the fun part. My Christmas present to myself.



Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

43 thoughts on “WIP: First first draft finished”

  1. Well done, Jane! I envy people who have such fluency with writing and plan multi-volume stories. But I hope that 2019 is the year I finally get back to my own (very much single volume) novel.

  2. Hooray on getting to a first draft! And especially hooray that it is *not* 330,000 words long! Hoo boy, I agree with you: that is not just going to be a hard sell to an agent or publisher, but pretty much an impossible sell. Since I’ve started getting more serious about my writing, I’ve discovered the wealth of information available online –for free– about the craft of writing and about the publishing business. So it continually surprises me when someone seems to have ignored all of that, done no homework at all, and makes such a “noob mistake.” But then, I was a professor for a decade: why on earth am I surprised that someone didn’t do their homework???

      1. You’re doing it for a reason. Maybe they need to be heard and you were receptive to telling their story. You will do it right, I’m sure.

      2. It’s a strange but true story. While I was on a train journey a couple of years ago I had an idea for a short story, a simple story, a love triangle set in Medieval Ireland. I jotted down the main points of it, gave the heroine a name and left it to do other things. When I went back to it, doing historical research for the period I discovered that the story I’d imagined actually happened! Obviously, I had to write it then ๐Ÿ™‚

      3. I believe you. Truth is *always* stranger — and more interesting — than fiction. You just have to tune in to the truth swirling around ready to be grasped. If you ever have time for reading beyond blogs and your research, check out Adrienne Celt’s book, “Invitation to a Bonfire”. It’s based on actual people also…

      4. Thanks. I’ll look it up ๐Ÿ™‚ I suppose everything has already happened. It’s just a question of picking out the standard lines and weaving some fresh embroidery onto it.

      1. That was a habit I could never shake. Long after I stopped going to Mass I had a terror of turning my back on the altar without genuflecting first. Those terrible vindictive eyes boring into the back of my head…

      1. I understand fully. I am an under-writer myself. I added another third to my first “novel” during the editing process. And that was actually on the advice of an editor. ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. There are always things that need clarifying, plot holes to fill and scenes to add to illustrate a point. I think of the first draft as a pre-first draft, just a throwing down of ideas that can be rearranged and made more real later.

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