Thursday, December 10, 2009

FNC Writing News Brief: And two years later, I finished my novel!

Monday night, just before the stroke of midnight, I typed "The End."* Multiple Choice is complete!

[Minor dance party.]

Because I'm about to dive headfirst into the chaos that is revision -- and then headfirst again into the terror that is querying -- I'm taking a moment to bask. Join me?

... Basking ... Basking ... Basking ...


Considering that two years ago I'd never finished more than three chapters of a novel before abandoning it, this is a big deal. Writing isn't a quick process for me. I deliberate in my mind for minutes sometimes before moving on to another sentence.

The Good News: My first drafts are pretty tight.
The Bad News: My first drafts take two whole years.

Brief Timeline-y Goodness:
Months 1-6 (12/07-6/08) --- Turned my first three chapters from short stories into actual chapters that formed the basis of the entire novel. (Reading chapter one still gives me heartburn, even though it's beautiful now.)
Months 6-18 (6/08-6/09) --- Wrote chapters 4 to 9, which finished off the first half of the book. Helloooo, snail's pace.
Months 18-24 (6/09-12/09) -- I wrote the final nine chapters, 10 through 18, between June and now. Drastic increase in writing speed? I think so!

Now that I'm all done basking in the glow, here's what I have: 18 chapters; 99,497 words. AKA at least 20,000 words too many, according to most publishers. (I'm keeping all the chapters.)

My revision plan?
1. Outline the whole thing so that I can see the big picture, then revise via those notes and all the notes I've left myself throughout the writing process.
2. Re-read the fifty or so revision-related blog posts I've bookmarked, to open my brain to all I need to be thinking about. (If I follow your writing blog, you're probably included in this list, so thanks for the inspiration and excellent tips!)
3. Read my novel as a novel, instead of as a bunch of chapters. Revise on various levels -- character, plot, pacing, voice, etc.
4. Send to betas and revise via their notes.
5. Do the obsessive, nitty gritty "Should this be 'moves' or 'pushes'? A period or a comma?" revision.
6. Read it aloud to myself. Revise again.
7. Hopefully send to a couple last betas...
... and then maybe, just maybe, I can start sending it to agents. My goal is February.

(Oh, did I mention I'd also be creating a gigantic agent spreadsheet with all the details and info on the agents I want to query? Plus perfecting my query letter and synopsis.)

Yikes. On second thought, maybe I should've delayed writing that ending.

Anywho, since typing The End achieved a huge goal of mine, here's a lovely relevant link:
The wonderful -- and super-productive -- Maggie Stiefvater posted yesterday about smacking 2010 around with her New Year's Resolutions. If you want some inspiration, go read it!

I Want To KNOW!
What writing (or general life) goal are you working towards? Any achievements lately we can help you celebrate? (We love any excuse to celebrate!)

*I totally only typed "The End" because I needed to commemorate the momentous occasion. It felt so official! No worries, it will be struck from my Word document at some point.


  1. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! This is a huge win! Good luck slogging through the revisions. :)

  2. Congrats! I am in the same boat as you. Just finished the first draft of a novel that took a year and 1/2 to write (1/2 a year of wandering writing, one year of serious writing). I don't think my first draft is as tight as I'm dreading the revision! We'll have to whine to and encourage one another as we go...

  3. Yay Donna, we're all so proud of you!!!! Can't wait to enter Query Wars with you!!!

  4. Woohoo Donna! That is a great and wonderful achievement! Keep us posted about your revision process; maybe we can brave the world of revisions together, lol. :P

  5. One Pushy Fox - Thanks! And welcome to the blog.

    Melissa - I'm all for revision buddies. If you check out Frankie's blog, she's in the thick of it, and even has a revision mascot, Ninjadillo!

    Frankie - Countdown to Query Wars wooooo! I'm so happy I'll be going through the craziness with you!

    Steph - Thanks so much! We need to make a club.

  6. Congratulations! That's fantastic to hear. Good to hear about the spreadsheet too--organise the hell out of your querying process, it will pay off! Bask away, and good luck revising :)

  7. Wow, I feel so much better! I feel like I've been working way too slowly - I'm about 9 months into the writing of my novel. I keep reading stories about people who wrote their novels in a span of just a few months. Thanks for letting the rest of us know not to find ourselves daunted by the sheer length of time we've spent writing.

    Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment!

  8. Rhiannon - Your blog helped inspire me to be as obsessively organized as possible in the process!

    DKB - I've definitely felt the same way too, but I kept telling myself that everyone works at their own pace. (I believe it half the time.) But writing became much easier once I reached the halfway point. Keep it up!

  9. WOOOO for finishing! Congrats! I'm envious--I wish I was in the editing stages (I keep re-writing everything. eek.) For a while, all I wanted to do for a living was edit.

    I look forward to going to a Borders one day and seeing your novel!


  10. Brittany looks forward to seeing your novel in Borders. But I would hope to have you come for a signing at Chester County Book & Music Company (and go to other Indies all over the country, please). You and Frankie, maybe. Double bill!

    Congrats, Donna. That must be a wonderful feeling. As someone who's only written 3 chapters of one novel and 5 chapters of another (and now stuck on both), I admire you.

    Check out Laurie Halse Anderson's blog (Mad Woman In the Forest) for some excellent revision tips.


Thanks so much for reading our blog, and we really appreciate you taking the time to comment! We read every one, and we try to respond to all of them via email/comment.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...