I have super exciting news for you guys today! I finished my first draft! I know that I haven't volunteered any information about my WIP yet, so this might be hard for you to get excited about, but have you ever made it through an entire first draft before? Yes? No? If you have, then you know what it feels like to finally, finally type the last sentence! And this is the first first draft I have ever completed!
All right, enough with the excessive italics and exclamation marks. You must forgive me for my excitement - it's just so mind-blowing to me that I accomplished this. For reals. Not to say that I don't believe in myself or whatever, just to imply that I've been through a lot to reach this point. My perseverance has been worth it so far!
Shhhh, I know. With editing comes stress. Just let me enjoy these few weeks of bliss before I enter into the perfecting stage, okay?
For this post, I'd like to share a thing or two that I learned throughout the writing of this first draft, throughout the year-long typing of all 100,034 words (an exact count). Seriously, I started writing this - armed with a few ideas but zero plot - during this month of last year (I think). And somehow I made it through to the end. I know that a lot of you participate in NaNoWriMo and stuff like that, but I have too much to do and too many other things that I like to do in my spare time to be able to write an entire novel in 30 days. Or even 4 months. Give me a 12-month deadline, and I'll be set! Give me 30 days, and I'll fall apart. Of course, the NaNo novels you write are usually shorter than 100,000 words, aren't they? Not that I know much about you crazy Camp NaNo people ;D
The biggest thing I learned: When you're writing the first draft, you're not really telling the story yet. You're figuring out what you want your story to be about, and then editing is when you really tell it. I guess this applies mostly to those who delve into their first draft without really knowing where they're going. No outline sketched out, no definite ending in mind, sometimes even only a tiny little splinter of plot held carefully between the thumb and forefinger. Like me, for example. It's like we're beginning the journey with no map, no baggage, and no destination. We let the road take us where it will and wait for the ideas to come as we go.
They call us "pantsers," don't they? Is being a pantser fun? Yes! Does it result in a crappier first draft? You bet! But hey, now we can look at that first draft, soak in everything that we wrote down, and realize for the first time the story we want to tell, the message we want to get across, the villain we want to use, the character relationship we want to develop. "But wouldn't being a plotter accomplish all that much more efficiently?" you ask. "Wouldn't it save you an extra draft?" Well, I couldn't be a plotter. I'd have no patience for it. But I read somewhere that even plotters end up going down different trails than they planned. Sometimes you have to just WRITE to figure out where the heck you're going.
It was such a fun adventure, leading me down so many paths that I'd never imagined I would venture across. Or rather, stumble across covered in bruises. Or even better, crawl across with my last dying breaths. It has so, so, so many problems and is nowhere near publication-worthy, but after my break, I can't wait to start turning it into something presentable. The plot holes are innumerable. *shakes head as if chasing away rising insanity*
No. No, I'll be fine. Everything's going to work out just fine.
Well, if you're a writer too, then you know the struggle. But please, talk to me. What did you learn from your first draft? Are you a pantser or a plotter? Comment below!
I know that you still know absolutely nothing about what I'm writing. Don't worry... there's a post coming soon with more specifics about the story and the characters!