Paula has finished her first draft – nearly!
There have been times when I thought I would never finish this story. Some chapters seemed agonisingly slow to write. I always make a note of when I start and finish a chapter, and was quite surprised to discover that many of them only took me about two weeks (plus or minus a couple of days). I could have sworn some of them took far longer than this, but at least the later chapters have only taken about a week each.
I started this story back in January, originally set it ‘somewhere’ in North West England, and wrote five chapters. However, after a discussion with my publisher, I made the decision in early April to ‘move’ it to Ireland as the fourth stand-alone novel in my Mist Na Mara series. It took some mental adjustment and quite a lot of rewriting to make that move from a seaside town in England to Clifden in the west of Ireland, and also to link it to the Mist Na Mara Arts Centre which has featured in my other Irish books.
After I’d made the changes, I continued the story. Inevitably, because of the change of setting, it took a different course from the one I originally envisaged, and also produced several twists that I didn’t expect. Maybe by now I should be used to the characters doing things ‘their’ way since this is invariably what happens when I’m writing a first draft.
Last night, I got within a hair’s breadth of finishing the final chapter. I knew where I wanted to go with it, but it proved slightly more complex to get there than I anticipated (that’s the story of my life – and my novels!). Hopefully tonight I will finish the final scene of Irish Deceptions and be able to write The End.
But, of course, it isn’t the end. For one thing, it’s about 10K words more than I really want it to be. I aim for between 80 and 90K, but this is nearer to 100K. However, I’m well aware that I tend to overwrite scenes in the first draft, and also my characters often talk too much, so I’ll be able to shorten some of those scenes. I also have copious notes of what I need to change, add or delete in the earlier chapters.
Next I’ll embark on the process of checking for factual and continuity errors, and for plot and character development, followed by tweaking and polishing and, of course, watching out for the words and phrases I know I overuse. Last but not least comes the task of going through with a fine tooth comb searching for missed words, incorrect spelling, punctuation errors, and typos.
There is still a lot of work to do, but completing a first draft is always a big milestone. It’s the point at which I breathe a huge sigh of relief – and then settle down to the editing – which I actually enjoy more than the original writing!