I finished the first draft of the novel last Sunday night. It weighs in at 95,007 words (via MS Office’s word count, which is a little lower than Open Office’s word count; I dunno why). I’m still sort of floating on the great release of having actually gotten it done. There were times that I wasn’t sure I’d ever finish the damn thing. I wondered if I was really cut out to write a novel.
It turns out that I am.
I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever mentioned the working title here; it’s ‘All That Glitters’, but I suspect that won’t be what it ends up being called. It’s not… I don’t know… punchy enough, maybe? Memorable enough? Even the members of my writers group don’t actually refer to it by that title. But that’s a second draft problem.
For now, as recommended by everyone who’s actually written and published a novel, I’m going to let the manuscript rest for at least a few weeks. Then, after I can look at it with fresher eyes, I’ll go back and do a rewrite. Some of that will be simple clean-up – removing excess verbiage. Some of it will be making sure the characters have consistent voices. Some of it will be filling the plot holes I danced around in my mad rush to the finish. And, because I was really pantsing my way through the first draft, and was figuring out what the story was while I was writing it, I need to go back and take out everything that isn’t the story.
What happens then?
Then the second draft will go out to my Alpha Readers. Alpha Readers are the people a writer trusts to give valuable, high-level feedback on a draft. The people whose eyes are keen enough, whose craft is strong enough, to be able to untease any big picture problems and – this part is important – suggest solutions. They bring a writer’s or editor’s mind to the proceedings.
After the Alphas have their say will come (I’m sure) another rewrite, after which the book will go out to, you guessed it, Beta Readers. Beta Readers can fill a few niches. They can be resources for specific subjects the writer doesn’t know much about (guns, or the law, or knitting, or whatever), or copy-editors. Some of the most valuable Betas bring the perspective of engaged, passionate readers who will be taking in the story as a reader would, and will spot any problems or plot holes that would trouble a passionate reader.
And after that?
After that, one final polish to fix any problems the Betas spot. And then it should be ready to go out to agents. Which will be a whole ‘nother thing. I’d like to document that process here, with an appropriate level of discretion (for instance, I won’t be naming the agencies I send my manuscript out to, or the ones that reject it, but I’ll probably describe the process, without names).
And that’s not all!
Of course, the novel isn’t all that I’ve been doing or thinking about, not by a long shot. There’s my family, and my job. And while All That Glitters is resting between drafts, I have a couple of other writing projects to get off the back-burner and get busy with. I’m working with Patrick on the outline for Book 2 of our webcomic Cold Iron Badge. And Nicole and I are going to be collaborating on a project that’s both new and old, and that promises to be lots of fun to write. But as a wise hamster-narrating-disembodied-voice used to say, that’s another story. But it’s one you’ll hear about sooner or later. And, since I also hope to blog more frequently going forward, may I humbly suggest that you cast an occasional eye to this space for that news and those updates?