First Draft Victory Lap

Well, I did it! In spite of 2 surgeries (both hands for carpal tunnel and my left elbow for an ulnar nerve issue). In spite of moving to a new place. In spite of everyday life. I have a complete draft of my steampunk fantasy novel, NightWind!

For simplicity sake, I’m calling this a first draft. But really, it’s more like draft 1.5 because when I got about three-quarters of the way through it the first time back in April, I decided that what I was doing just wasn’t working. So, I went back and combed through what I had written and sectioned everything differently. I also added in a couple of other character perspectives.

This time around, though I still have to a lot to learn as a writer, I felt like I was a bit more organized than I have been with previous projects. I used a great word processing program/app called Scrivener. It allowed me to have all of my notes and my manuscript in one place. This meant that I could easily flip back and forth between notes and chapters and, ultimately, I think that helped me to create a story that is better constructed and more consistent. If you’re ever looking for a new way to organize and a new interface to use for your projects, I highly recommend looking into Scrivener. It’s relatively inexpensive, too!

I also spent a significantly larger amount of time prepping before writing for this project. I forced myself to work every day for a month doing character development, world building and outlining. That was my October before jumping into the first 30K during NaNoWriMo 2018. In the future, I think I’m going to expand this prep time to two months. But, it was a great way to force myself to sit down and really think through things. For me, I love getting down to the writing as soon as possible because I have so many great ideas flowing. But, without that organization and pre-work, things tend to get a bit off the rails.

So, what are the next steps? Well, first I’m going to send the story to my friend to read. Some of this project was inspired by my trip to Japan in 2016. My friend is going to read it and make sure that I’m paying homage to that culture in an appropriate way, without committing cultural appropriation (I don’t think I am. But, it can’t hurt to have that assurance from a trustworthy source). From there, the story will go to my first round of beta readers, after which I’ll make some adjustments. Then, on to a last round of beta readers and then finally to an editor or two for grammatical reasons.

In early September, I’ll reach out to my cover artist and start that process. But first, I have to decide whether I am going to just do an e-book version or if I want to shell out the extra cash to do both an e-book and a print version. Since my writing tends to end up as passion projects and I never recoup the cost of publication, a print version is more of a vanity thing than anything else. If anyone has thoughts on this, I’d love to get some advice! If you have any thoughts, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

At some point, I need to draft some promo copy and back of book copy as well. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to write teaser copy. I think it might be harder than writing the novel itself!

As for publication, I haven’t picked a date for that yet either. Given the success I had with a free e-book weekend during the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I might wait until Memorial Weekend 2019 and design a free e-book campaign in which I’ll offer my first two books for free and the new book for a discounted price and do a little bit of social media advertising to help get the word out. But, I tend to fall in that instant gratification category, so we’ll see how that goes :).

Clearly, there’s still lots to do. But, I wanted to pause for just a minute and celebrate the success of achieving this milestone. Not everyone gets through a first draft. And not everyone finishes a book when they start it. So, everyone who gets to those points should feel really good about it! When it’s your turn, be sure to stop and celebrate those victories, big and small. But for now, it’s time to keep moving!


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