I’ve been so busy writing today. I love when I get in the groove and just can’t stop. I had to tear myself away from my chapter because if I had kept going it would have been way too long. I ended up splitting Chapter 1 into two Chapters. So the Chapter that I was working on that I was calling 2, became 3, and Chapter 1 became Chapters 1 and 2. I decided that since this is the first draft and it’s all tell no show, it’s going to end up doubling in length once I start Draft 2 because I’ll be fleshing it out and embellishing my writing. In fact, I might have to separate my chapters once more once I get to Draft 2, so I need to be careful. Note to self: do NOT reach your word count goal in Draft 1. Hopefully my chapters don’t double as well as my word count, other wise I might be in trouble. I’m thinking, though, if I can keep my word count in draft 1 to 57,500 and finish the story, then I can safely double my word count and my chapter count without having to worry about going too far over 115,000 words (considered in the “excellent” range of Fantasy novels: 100,000-115,000). But the most I can stretch it to is 124,000 before an agent won’t bother too look at it. I know I won’t get it finished in my second draft, but I’m trying to stick to reasonable guidelines as much as possible.
Things I’ve been learning by writing my first novel:
1. The first draft of a novel is the “all tell, no show” portion where you get down the bare bones of what you want for your story. You finish the entire story in this “all tell, no show” range, and in the second draft, you change it by embellishing the story and adding to it. It’s also the planning stage. Most of your time is taken up by planning. The writing is the easy part.
2. The second stage becomes the “mostly show, some tell” stage where the words are crafted and edited to make the writing sound like an actual story rather than, “this happens, it’s a story, and it’s done.” No one likes stories like that. In this stage, the novel usually ends up doubling in length and becomes at least somewhat decent. Usually you’ll fix spelling and grammatical errors that you didn’t catch in your first draft. But you usually don’t show it to people at this stage.
3. Draft 3 is the beta stage. You send your novel out to beta readers that you trust (I happen to have 3 that I feel safe sending my novel to) and get your critiques from those beta readers. But while you’re waiting, you read through your novel yourself. You take out unnecessary sentences, words, and anything that seems repetitive or otherwise useless to the overall plot of your story. You fill in the plot holes and in some cases, you add stuff that you forgot to add in earlier drafts.4. Draft 4 is usually (in most cases) the final draft before the manuscript. This is where you take your critiques that you got from your trusted betas, and the changes that you made, and combine them all into the story. By now your novel should be within the acceptable range of a novel from your genre (Fantasy, in my case), and you’re just rewriting it. You send the finished novel back to your trusted betas, they read through it again, and tell you whether or not they think it should go through another draft, or if it’s primped and polished enough to go into the manuscript. Any other drafts are just rinse and repeat of steps 3 and 4.
5. Manuscript. This is the stage where you start researching your agents and begin writing your query letters. Places like Absolute Write (linked in a previous post) or other forums or websites where you as the writer frequent usually have a forum dedicated to writing out your query letter to make your manuscript shine. By now you should have your 4th draft retyped into a manuscript format (if you haven’t already written the story out in manuscript format, or even if you have, retyping it will help you check for anymore last minute spelling or grammatical errors). You should know exactly what your story is about. Its genre, its word count, its plot, its characters, EVERYTHING. You take all of your knowledge and put it into that ultra important query letter that will probably have 4 or more drafts by itself as well before you have the perfect query letter to send out to agents.
And…that’s all I know for now. :p