Monday, November 17, 2008

Completion of the First Draft of My First Novel, The Hidden Land of Gre

First, the stats:

The Hidden Land of Gre is a story about a girl and boy who go on a great adventure to save a dying race from an ancient curse.

Final length 71,467 words.
Start date: February 2008.
End date: November 2008.

Wow. I'm overwhelmed and speechless. I've just finished the first draft of my first novel.

I can't say that I've ever stuck with a big project like this (outside of "work," that is) long enough to see it through. It's an achievement, something to be proud of, and I think that everyone should take some time out to recognize their personal milestones. It's too easy to say "Phew, that's off my list, what's next?" But on the other hand, if I've learned one thing from all the wonderful people I've met over my last few months of learning the writer's ropes, it's that my work has only just begun!

Here are my next steps:
  • Format the novel, probably in Adobe InDesign, and print a copy or two on Lulu. It was actually my boyfriend's suggestion, and I think it's a good one. The novel still has a long way to go, but it will be fun to have a rough draft copy for posterity!

  • Let the novel sit. Most authors I've talked to have suggested this step. Despite the fact that it's been ten months since I've read some parts, I think it still needs to "gel."
  • Work on my "character bibles." My understanding is that these are documents used to get to know your characters better. I think my characters have changed and coalesced over time, so this will help when I get to the rewriting stage.

  • I'm toying with the idea of writing the next book in the series before rewriting the first book. I know the rewrites will be a pain, editing tends to be harder for me than writing. Perhaps I could do both at the same time?

  • And then, of course, rewrites, read-throughs, and edits for the foreseeable future!

Before all that, I suppose I should take some time out to celebrate... Thought it feels like a celebration just to know that I've actually done what I set out to do. Then again, watching a bit of Puppy Cam and eating chocolate is a pretty sweet, easily accessible reward!

Last but not least, I'd like to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone on Twitter and elsewhere who've offered their congratulations. And of course, thanks to all those who've buoyed me through my writer's journey!


Anna said...

Congratulations! What an accomplishment!

Diary of an Eccentric

Scobberlotcher said...

Congrats! That is a terrific accomplishment, one that few people actually complete. I think you are wise to dive into another book before doing the heavy lifting on this draft. There is truly something about disengaging from the story and letting it sit that magically assists with the editing.

Congrats, again!

Dino said...


The Rejection Queen said...

I hate to say it, but you'll probaby be published before me *sigh* so jealous.

Congrats though!

Emma Larkins said...

Thanks everyone! One of the best parts of the whole process has been discovering the wonderful writing community.

Scobberlotcher, I hope you're right! I hope that I don't look back on my draft and say, "what was I thinking?"

Don't say that, rejection queen! You're already so far ahead of me. I have faith in you :)

Anonymous said...

Stephen King (I'm a disciple of his writing style/techniques, although not a big horror genre fan) recommends (and I do this) that you stay away from a finished first draft for about a month. Start writing something else. Then have your TR (trusted reader, someone who will give you HONEST feedback, a well-read literary person) read it and give you his/her candid impressions. Take that feedback as you will, re-open the ms and start re-writing and editing. the King's rule of thumb is that the final word count should be 10% less than the first draft. You cut out unneeded words, streamline the prose, get rid of adjectives & adverbs, cut down those preciously adorned dialog tags, etc.

That's the advice. Here's the kudos-

HOORAY Emma!!! You go girl! Finished a 70K word novel? That's mighty piece of work - you should be proud, and you deserve a break today - complete with some champagne & cheese with your sig other. (smile)

Emma Larkins said...

Thank you so much, Marvin, for the congrats and the advice! Unfortunately, my significant other is several hundred miles away right now, but I'll have to plan something for when I see him this weekend (happy dance!!)

Danielle Ackley-McPhail said...

Way to go, Emma! That is quite an accomplishment. It took me three years to finish my first novel...and it needed quite a bit of reworking after that. Sadly I didn't discover that until it was already in print (I was naive). I think it is a very good idea to write the sequel before you do anything else. Right now everything is fresh in your mind. You still have the characters bouncing around inside of you. I put off my third book in my trilogy way to long and now I'm having a very hard time writing it. What is worse is, it HAS to be written because of how I left the second book...eventually I'll get it done, but I certainly do wish I'd done them all at once instead of letting myself get distracted.



Jane Smith said...

Make sure you edit it carefully, and research publishers before you consider submitting. You don't want to lose your precious work to a scam or a vanity press--I've seen too many people end up heartbroken as a result of doing so, and it's dreadful.

And congratulations!

Heather J. said...


R.J. Mangahas said...

Congratulations, Emma! That's huge. You've taken the biggest step. Now, go out and celebrate. You've earned it!!


Emma Larkins said...

Well, perhaps "finished" is not quite the correct word. Who knows how long the rewrites will take? But it's a draft, it's a thing, I can print out all the pages and say I did this. Still reason for celebtation, right R.J.? Don't mind if I do!

Serena said...

That is a relief to have a first draft completed...even if it is a rough draft. I agree...let the draft sit and gel. Heck start the next in the series...why not.

Serena said... are an inspiration.