So here I am. Just a tiny bit under 28 days since NaNoWriMo started here in Ohio, and I've typed the last words on the first draft (very much a first draft!) of "Adrift," the working title for the project I chose for NaNo this year.
Honestly, I think I'm in a bit of a daze. Before a few months back, the longest thing I'd ever written was a roughly 9,500 word long mystery story (technically, I suppose, a novelette per "prize" definitions which tend to cut off "short story around 7,500 words). I started in late-summer/early-fall on a very half-baked novel idea which I honestly have no idea if I'll ever go back to.
But, you know, if I hadn't made that first attempt a couple of months back, I doubt I'd be sitting here typing these words now.
For all of its faults -- and I'm sure they are legion -- my first draft of Adrift looks an awful lot like my original 2100 or so word notes that I typed up in October. There were definitely some major changes, some parts got emphasized, others de-emphasized and there there were more than a few twists along the way that fit with the overall arc but I hadn't expected. But it's done. And while it's nowhere near ready for anyone else to read yet, it's hard to argue that it doesn't fit the form of a novel. I've written a novel. And... Wow!
So. Now, what next?
Well, the first thing I'm going to do is let it sit for a few weeks. I need a little distance from it, because right now I think I know which parts I love and which parts I hate, but I suspect that with a bit of a passage of time, I'll look at it with some different eyes.
I already have steps planned out for what I'll do when I return to it. When I start reading it, I plan to build three things:
1) A scene/sequel breakdown showing each division in the story with a rough idea of how long each is, what it does to move the plot forward, etc. My hope is that this will show areas which need trimmed, expanded, etc.
2) A timeline (well, a pair of timelines, I guess, since this is a time-travel story). This way I've got dates lined up properly. More of a continuity thing than anything else, I suppose, but having these timelines for the final 1/3rd of the novel seemed to help me stay focused.
3) A character list including traits, descriptions, etc. so I can make sure that I'm keeping things consistent. And clean up all of those little notations like Mr. WhateverHisNameWas that crept in along the way.
If any of my readers have experience with taking a second pass through a book, I'd definitely be interested in hearing about your own thoughts on this. Thanks for following along with me as I worked through this project in November!