Pop the champagne! Drop the confetti! I am happy to report that I have finally finished the first draft of my latest novel.
Actually, first draft is a little misleading. It’s more like the first complete draft of the novel. My process is really pretty complicated. First, I spend a few weeks outlining a novel. I mainly try to identify the big pieces of the novel, and I try to capture any dialog that might work well in certain parts. I also want to make sure I have enough content to actually justify a novel. I tend to go through a lot of drafts of my outlines, and I eventually end up picking two or three that I really like. I don’t automatically know exactly what I want to write – I usually have a main theme I want to touch on, but everything else is up for grabs. I tend to over-populate my manuscript with problems at this phase as well.
After I finish my outlines, I spend a month or so really working on the first three chapters. A lot of my outlines bite the dust before I even finish one chapter. Eventually, a writable novel rises to the top. I really believe that the first three chapters should tell you everything you need to know about the novel – who the main characters are, what the main problem is, the tone and voice of a novel, etc.
Next, I begin writing the book. Now, this isn’t planned, but what usually happens is that I write about half of the book, before I get a huge epiphany and start over again. If I’m lucky, like I was in this case, I’m able to use a lot of the material that I created before. If I’m unlucky (like with Rhombus) I have to almost start from scratch. I also redo my outline, and at this point, most of the over-the-top problems are eliminated.
Then, it’s a mad dash to the finish line as I frantically write the novel. This is probably the most exciting time for me, because it’s when everything is fresh and new and exciting. I tend to write a lot of dialog first, and then fill it in with narrative later.
I’m now at the point where I’ve combined all my individual chapters into one large Word file. This is where I begin the true editing process.
I wish I could tell you guys more about the manuscript (codename: Righteous), but it just isn’t at that point yet. Mrs. V hasn’t even read this manuscript yet, and my agent has only seen the first three chapters. But, to be fair, I will share this about the novel:
1) It’s contemporary fiction.
2) It’s the closest thing to a love story that I’ve ever written.
3) It has a lot to do with religion.
4) My main characters’ names are Joshua and Madeline.
5) It has less cursing than Rhombus (at least, for now).
Speaking of Rhombus, I’m almost finished with the next round of edits on the manuscript. They were virtually painless this go around, and in the next round (if there even is a next round), I expect them to be very minor. Stay tuned to the website over the next couple of months. I hope to have more content about Rhombus there by March.
Congrats, Mr. V. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a three-day weekend plus an ice day…
Hurrah! Go, Varian, go!
All right Varian, way to go! Can’t wait to see it!
Wow, you are the second writer in the last few days that said they write pre-write dialog. I have always written chronologically but I think about the story in major scenes. I have to start writing them first and see how that goes. Congrats on the milestone.
That’s good news! Your methods sound familiar to me, especially the false starts, but I wouldn’t mind a few more of those epiphanies you speak of….