That's me sitting back with a big sigh and a smile on my face. My neck is stiff, my hands are aching and my eyes hurt but I'm happy - no, I'm thrilled.
It's done! The first draft of the final book in the Broughton Hall series is done. What started with Torn, continued with Inviolate, will conclude with ... well I'm not allowed to tell you that just yet.
As always it ended up being waaaay longer than I anticipated but then that's part of the redrafting process.
Redrafting ... huh?
I caught up with a friend for breakfast the other day and I told her that I'd completed the first draft and she was very excited. Her first question was, "When can I buy it?"
Hmmm. When I told her that it won't be ready for a long time yet, her next question was, "Why not, it's done isn't it?"
Hell yeah it's done and I'll be the first to celebrate, but writing the first draft isn't anywhere near complete.
For starters, it's currently a manuscript of about 250,000 words. It needs to be pulled back to around 150,000. (Torn and Inviolate were published at around 140,000 words).
Secondly, it's rough. I started at the prologue and worked my way through from end to end. During that time, I needed to allow the characters to show themselves, to reveal their personalities to me and I needed to learn to read them and understand them.
By the time I wrote the epilogue I knew them well. So begins the process of returning to the beginning to round them out, to fill in those little personality traits that make them who they are so that the reader can get to know them too.
You see, much as I know who they are and what will happen to them, they still have the ability to surprise me with unexpected thoughts and behaviours, likes and dislikes. And throughout the writing, as they revealed all these things to me, I learned more about them.
When I first began the writing, I didn't have this information, so I now need to return to the beginning and flesh these people out with what I know about them.
I couldn't tell you if this is how other writers do it, but for me, when I wrote Torn, I had the story and the characters, but they were very one dimensional. Through the process of writing, I learned to allow them to reveal themselves in their own time - often I learned things about them that surprised me.
So now the redrafts - there will probably be about three or four. This process will do the following:
- Kill my darlings - that is to say, chop out any unnecessary scenes - regardless of how brilliant I think the actual writing is. If it doesn't add to the story or say something important, it must go.
- Tighten my prose - reduce my word usage, tighten, tighten and tighten some more. Eliminate unnecessary words, rearrange punctuation to rephrase things more efficiently, find a single word with which to replace an entire sentence. It's doable, and I did it in Torn and Inviolate. Sometimes, though, it's very hard. I can spend, literally, hours trying to find just the right word to express a concept, scene or emotion.
- Cut, cut, slash and burn - make no mistake, there is a lot of rubbish in this manuscript. There's a lot of rubbish in most manuscripts. The difference between serious publishing and vanity publishing - in my opinion - it that the vanity publisher leaves the rubbish in and just goes straight to the ePub website, hands over the credit card details and Whammo! Instant author! Not so, in the world of serious publishing. I will be redrafting several times - and that's before my editor gets her spiky little red pen onto it!
- Did I say tighten? Well, now I have to do it again. Tighten, tighten and contract. Cut, slash and pull back. Then pull it back some more. The end result will be, hopefully, a tight, easy to read, error free manuscript ready for publishing.
Today Stuart and I moved out of our lovely little home that we've been happy in for 15 years. It's a bit sad but also the start of a new adventure. By November our new house will be built - we plan to be in by Christmas - hey JJ we expect you to keep Cabin 1 free for NYE!!
Meanwhile, next week I'm off to Italy for three months of writing. I'll be methodically working through my redraft process, as well as volunteering at a cat refuge in Rome: Gatti di Roma.
Stuart has never been to Ireland so we're going to do a quick visit there before we head to la bella Roma. Stu will return home and I'll settle in to some serious redrafting work.
So, that's about all from me this week.
Until next week, remember that you can't redraft your life so enjoy the moment.