I’m half-way through writing my new book and it’s the one I’ve been waiting to write for a long time. I am lost in the world of story and I can imagine no other place I’d rather be. I’m enjoying the process of bringing my characters to life one page at a time. I have a basic outline but I feel free to change it as I go along to suit the direction of the story. I write about 90,000 to 100,000 words for my first draft. I aim for 1000 words per day but if that doesn’t happen that’s fine and sometimes I write more. When I finish a 3000 word chapter it’s one that I have worked hard over. I cannot fly through a first draft and leave behind spelling mistakes and rambling dialogue. Every writer is different.
My new story has a working title of Bright Spirit and before I began writing this book I visited the various areas where much of the story is set and read a few books on the subject matter which of course led to more research. However, research is a long piece of string and writers need to know when to stop. So I don’t do a lot of research in the beginning but I do know enough about the characters and setting to start writing. By the time I start the first draft I know who my main characters are and also some of the minor ones. My main characters don’t change but minor ones are sometimes deleted or I add new ones.
I read somewhere that writing a first draft is like pushing a pea uphill with your nose and I agree! For me, it’s a time of hard work and struggle, and I am heartily pleased when I put that last full stop on the page. When I finished writing my last book I can honestly say if my characters had stepped through my front door at that moment I’d have known them because they had become part of my family. But it’s then I let go of them.
Like most writers I have a notebook, for my last novel I had five, but this time I only have one, and I don’t read them again. I disposed of about ten old (large) notebooks earlier this year plus about 100,000 words from a ‘might be used file’. A notebook is very handy.
I always know the ending of a story (although it can change). Bright Spirit is a straight narrative written in first person so it is easy to jump from an earlier chapter to a later one.
I was asked recently about my writing day. I write most days for three to four hours in the morning. I am very methodical in backing up my files on a memory stick and/or emailing them to myself. I work in Pages, the Apple version of Word, and then convert the file to Word when needed. Most of the publishing houses, editors and agents work in Word.
A writer doesn’t produce a book all by themselves. It takes multiple input from many people to get a manuscript ready for publication. It’s something worth working hard to achieve.
3 responses to “Writing a Novel – the First Draft”
An amazing post with great tips as always. Anyone will find your post useful. Keep up the good work.
Telling stories and sharing your knowledge with the world is one of the most amazing feelings there is.
I hope you can take the time to read my post as well : Effective Steps on Writing Your First Novel.
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Thanks for your kind words, Gerald! I will make sure to read you post. It sounds great.
Ps I tried to post a comment after reading your post (great advice) but no luck and
when I wrote to you in the contact section of your blog a message came up to try again!
A few gremlins in your website it seems…all the best with your writing…cheers elise