Birth of a Book

After nine months of tapping away on my laptop, I’ve done it! I’ve finally typed ‘the end’ and completed a first draft of my novel.  Woo hoo!

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It’s a girl! I’ve not finalised the name yet but I’m delighted to announce that I’ve given birth to a book. She weighed in at a healthy 87k words, 310 pages long and I’m pleased to report that mother and baby are doing well.

But a first (VERY rough) draft is only the beginning, not ‘the end’ of the journey so I’m trying not to get too hyper (although it was still a good excuse to pop a cork). I know now from experience that there’s still a LOT of work to be done. It’s still a ‘work in progress’ and will be for quite some time…

imagesThis is the third time that I’ve written a novel but it’s the first time I’ve used the ‘freefall’ technique. My verdict? It’s definitely the best method I’ve ever tried so far. The idea is that instead of beating myself up about getting every word right and every sentence perfectly constructed, I gave myself permission to let the story flow out, without fear, without checking for typos, without any inhibitions. This meant that I didn’t get bogged down in one particular section and was able to keep the momentum going.

images (2)The freefall method is all about being creative but now it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of the text and start the editing process. This is the point where I have to be ruthless with my red pen.

I know before I start to reread the draft that there will be chunks of text where I’ll cringe at the first draft howlers where I’ve made mistakes and simply written a load of guff. But hopefully there will be enough raw material to polish into something shiny and worth showing…

How did you feel when you finished your first draft? What’re your best editing tips?

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14 thoughts on “Birth of a Book

  1. I felt very, very satisfied and rather proud of myself. But yes, the first draft is the ‘easy’ part. Next comes the rewriting and the rewriting and then the rewriting and then…. Then it’s time for the professional edit and more rewriting but eventually it’s ready – still imperfect but ready to be read. All the best with your book, Helen. I look forward to its publication.

  2. Congratulations Helen, 9 months for a first draft is very impressive! I’m probably too uptight to stick to the Freefall method fully but when I return to my second novel I intend to bash the whole story out to the end without overthinking it.

    I wrote my first as part of a workshop and I now realise the pressure of reading out and being subject to critique made me waste so much time polishing it far too early in the process. As you know, I’ve spent months restructuring and practically rewriting the whole manuscript – little of the original remains! But instead of regretting this I’m taking a valuable lesson – you can’t get it right as you go. That comes next, and I wish you all the best!

    • Thanks Isabel. Yes, I’ve been through a lot of trial and error approaches too. The freefall method doesn’t naturally match my control freak personality either but after being workshopped out during the MLitt, it definitely helped me move forward without the worry of what others will think etc.
      I’m sure I’ll need to spend a LOT of time on the editing process now but I’d definitely recommend giving it a go when you return to your second book.

  3. Congratulations! I’ve been watching from afar and I think it’s brilliant that you’ve finished what you set out to do – although, as you say, you’re not finished – but you are far along the path now – how wonderful is that! I can’t share my own experience because I’ve never written a novel. I understand that you have more work ahead but, for now, do celebrate the first milestone reached. Well done! 🙂

    • Thanks Catherine! I’d definitely recommend trying the ‘freefall’ technique and I’m sure it would work well for NANO. Good luck with your application for the New Writers Award – hope you go all the way this time! 🙂

  4. I was so excited that I actually typed ‘The End’ with a flourish just for fun…then I suddenly felt as though I had lost a friend – someone who had been with me 24/7 for the last seven months, even in my dreams.
    I’m on first edits now and have also cringed at some of the howlers I have made in the early chapters and I could have placed bets that I had been meticulous but my husband is taking delight in proof reading my mistakes. He says it’s the only time he can tell me I’m wrong AND have evidence to prove it!
    This is my first book, so it was lovely to read your post – very inspiring, thank you and good luck
    Gina 😊 Gx

    • Hi Gina, Thanks for the comment. Yes, typing those 2 little words is very exciting! We also share the good fortune to have long-suffering husbands who’re willing to proofread our work and like yours, I think mine enjoys using the red pen a little too much 😉 Good luck with your book and keep me posted on your progress.

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