Staring at That First Draft

I don’t talk about my novel-in-progress much, but today I finished the first draft.

I celebrated a little, but I know I’m in for a substantial rewrite.

Maybe I didn’t start this the right way, if such a thing exists. I just wrote. I had an outline, but the outline didn’t stick. I kept writing and praying that the characters would reveal themselves in time. The story I’ve ended up with is not the same one I sat down to write, but even though it’s rough, I think it’s a better story.

I’ve still got a heap of research to fill in, ideas to flesh out, knots to untangle, and characters to name. I’m actually looking forward to the next round of work, but in the meantime I’m going to tuck that manuscript away and work on some other things.

Do you enjoy editing, or is all your joy in the first draft?

22 Comments to “Staring at That First Draft”

  1. HEY, CONGRATULATIONS! You seem to be rather subdued in your celebration, but honestly, every finished (or “finished”) book deserves a party. Go you!

    And, for some reassurance, I do enjoy editing. 🙂

  2. Hey well done – that’s great news and an achievement not to be under-appreciated! In answer to your question, I hate editing vehemently but it can be an equally rewarding process if you have the courage to rip out bits that aren’t working and make drastic changes. It’s often at that point that the story starts revealing it’s sectets.

    1. T.S. Bazelli Author

      You’re right about the secrets. I’ve often found that the really good stuff that ties everything together doesn’t show up until the next draft is complete – kind of like magic. Thanks David!

  3. First off, congrats! Finishing the first draft is a huge accomplishment. Nothing to edit if you don’t finish writing it, right? As for you question, I much prefer editing. It means I’m crafting my story into something good. First drafts are hard work–creating something out of nothing–and mine inevitably are awful. The polishing stage, though, that’s where the true magic happens, at least in my humble little opinion.

  4. I have major trouble with editing. To me, there’s a certain joy in going over a paragraph and condensing, deleting unnecessary words, and crafting the “Perfect sentence.” But my issue: I’m an overediter. When I went to edit what was at first my “Grand Novel,” I wound up with different characters—the main character even disappeared into oblivion. The world is underwater, and the way it was set up changed through that edit. Well, I ended up rewriting the whole thing…and after THAT was done, I set down to edit. (Here’s where my story said, “NOOOOO!!! DON’T GET NEAR ME, I WANT TO STAY MYSEEEEELFFFF—” (I didn’t listen of course). Well, after chopping the poor thing up, I ended up with an entirely different story, which was longer, and in my opinion, richer. The original(er) story was kinda lame and killed to death with narratives. This newest version was much more entertaining and kid-friendly, and it read less like a college textbook. So, in the long run, through multiple “Edits,” (read: TOTAL REHAUL)

    So, to answer your question, yes, perhaps I like editing in some ways. But my stories don’t!!! 🙂

    Wow that was a long comment…

  5. Hey, a huge Congratulations for finishing the first draft! That’s a huge accomplishment.

    Me, I like editing when I discover I need to add new scenes in order to make the story work the way it needs to work during the edits. Filling in the blanks is awesome. I don’t like deleting. That kills me.

    1. Thanks Stephen!

      I think I’m the opposite. I enjoy cutting. There’s something therapeutic about crossing off lines and marking up a document with a fat red pen. hehe. I am disappointed when I find out that there’s more work left. Cutting I don’t consider work 😉

  6. Congratulations on finishing the first draft!

    I love those middle-of-the-night hours of writing the first draft, that pressure to get the story out as fast as possible.

    But I also love editing (which I actually do during the writing phase as well). It gives me a chance to flesh out emotions, tighten action, and fine-tune sentences at a slower pace. It’s like putting the finishing touches on a painting, those final brush strokes that make the story pop.

    So enjoy this part – you will get better acquainted with your characters and give them a chance to shine just a little brighter.

    1. Thanks Roh! I really hope so. I’m looking forward to this as a chance to tell the story I really wanted to tell, to make the characters who they are supposed to be, and I was just discovering (very barely) the first time around.

  7. Woo! That’s great to hear! Congratulations!

    Edits are the “take your medicine” to the “go out and play” that is writing your first draft. It needs to be done, and you usually feel better afterward, but you’d definitely rather be going back out to play.

    That being said, I think there is still some joy to be found in edits… really rounding out a rough scene, adding another layer of depth to your favorite character, or acting on an epiphany you had while you let the project sit… these are quite enjoyable.

  8. Lua

    YAAYY!!! Congratulations Tessa 🙂 Take a nice break, put some distance between your story and yourself (one of the best advice I got about revising) and just celebrate.
    Yes, the revision and the rewriting is hard and not as much fun as writing the first draft (at least not for me) but finishing the first draft is a huge accomplishment!
    I don’t think there is a ‘right and wrong way’ to write a novel, you do what works best for you and your story.

    1. Thanks Lua! Yes I completely agree about there not being a right way. It’s finished, and I learned a heck of a lot while getting through it. I celebrated by taking a good long nap… haha, and well, now to get onto other exciting projects for a while!

  9. Eric

    I know I wished you congratulations yesterday, but just wanted to say again how awesome that is. A whole first draft! Maybe some day I’ll finish someth

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