What happened to everyone's first book?

Jo Zebedee

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Like many others I took up this writing lark because I had a story to tell! Plus I was adamant it was all I had in me; once it was told that was it....

I've finished the first book and the sequel and started another book.

Already I can tell that much of what ive learned is being carried over, and the book I'm writing now is a little more mature, closer to the mix of pace and description I want.


What do I do with the first? It gets pretty good feedback, by and large. Do I shelve it for a couple of years and rewrite? Or do say well that's it, I learned from that, in which case I abandon an idea I think had legs?

Anyone had this experience, and any advice?
 

Teresa Edgerton

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The first book I was serious enough about to finish (as opposed to fragmentary scribblings written when I was a child or a teenager), having gone through numerous drafts, divided up into a trilogy, the first part going through more drafts, I sold.

I had so much passion for that story and those characters, I wasn't able to put them aside, and I just kept writing and revising until I had a manuscript that I felt reasonably confident about submitting. (Looking back now, I see many, many things that I would change, but I was happy with it at the time.)
 

Galacticdefender

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Seeing as I'm still working on my first book(s), I don't have an answer yet. I'll probably submit my work to be published at some point, though I am not looking for a career in writing by any means.
 

Brian G Turner

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I've read it stated elsewhere that to become a published writer, you need to write a million words - then burn them.

I've written my million words and burned them - I'd prefer not to have to write another million before being published. :)

I've had various projects, some I'd like to return to at some point, and some I'll never touch again.

My WIP was a monster, but I've almost finished the first big rewrite and I'm determined to ensure it's properly finished and polished fit for publishing. I started it in 1995.

As someone posted elsewhere on chronicles, it's a marathon, not a sprint ...
 

Galacticdefender

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I feel I've just recently in this past year "written my million words". My stories are finally starting to read like novels, (I'd like to say good novels ;)) Of course I still have little problems with characterization and the infodump here and there, but I'm finally writing something awesome, and it feels pretty friggin epic if you know what I mean.
 

TheDustyZebra

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(Looking back now, I see many, many things that I would change, but I was happy with it at the time.)

Oh, Teresa, I'm so afraid that would be me! If I ever get any of these darn things published, I just know I'll look at the first copy and say, "no, what was I thinking? I should have done x instead!"

I'm still working on my first book, so I can't say. And I'm not entirely sure which one will be my first book, either. :D
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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(Looking back now, I see many, many things that I would change, but I was happy with it at the time.)

Well, you know what they say about hindsight. :rolleyes: But you broke through and managed to actually write novels. I'm not at that stage. I might be able to stand some very shaky 40k words, but that's been about it. And looking back, even through numerous edits, it should be printed off just to set physical flame to. :p
 

kaal

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First book I wrote was in collaboration with my best mate, we started aged 12 and finished it (and its sequel) when we were 15. We took immediate and decisive action to shelve it and leave it there. Several years later (and several stories later, on my part), I took the characters and some of the plot points and built a proper story which is now a WIP that'll eventually span 5 books; I also took the rest of the story and made a comedy to be written some way down the line.
In the mean time I've written (and burned) probably another 500,000 words of various stories, including my most recent "finished" novel, which is due to be cut up and re-written into 2 YA novels.

I'd say that the stories are just about starting to shape up... :)
 

Dante DiBenedetto

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The first book I wrote to completion is on the back burner. My writing has improved so much, it's not even worth editing. I'm just going to re-write it and its sequel some day.

I adore the characters, the world, and the story, but the actual writing quality is painful for me to read.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Oh, Teresa, I'm so afraid that would be me! If I ever get any of these darn things published, I just know I'll look at the first copy and say, "no, what was I thinking? I should have done x instead!"

You won't think that. I finished writing that book so many years ago that I was a different person, a different writer; of course I would change things now. I didn't feel that way when the book was first published, and you won't either when you hold a book of yours in your hands.

And Karn, I hadn't even started that book when I was your age. You need to start believing in yourself.
 

Karn Maeshalanadae

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It's not that I don't believe in myself. It's just that at this point in time, I don't have the skills of art down enough to stretch things to the point of novel length. I know it's something acquired most of the time, and teaching can be a useful tool. I think my problem usually seems to be finding enough relevant filler to really get the ball rolling. I believe I have some good ideas, but the implementation of them could turn Cousin It bald from frustration.
 

Dante DiBenedetto

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It's not that I don't believe in myself. It's just that at this point in time, I don't have the skills of art down enough to stretch things to the point of novel length. I know it's something acquired most of the time, and teaching can be a useful tool. I think my problem usually seems to be finding enough relevant filler to really get the ball rolling. I believe I have some good ideas, but the implementation of them could turn Cousin It bald from frustration.

If you're having a hard time with book length, you're probably not utilizing enough dialogue, which many writers will tell you, is the one thing readers virtually never skip/skim.

It's not even an acquired thing -- book length. I wrote my first book in a few months, and I had never written a story longer than 10,000 words before then. I'd say, focus on your characters and less on an outline; let them tell the story for you. You'll end up having to cut/edit down scenes, not worry about getting it long enough.
 

Jo Zebedee

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You won't think that. I finished writing that book so many years ago that I was a different person, a different writer; of course I would change things now. I didn't feel that way when the book was first published, and you won't either when you hold a book of yours in your .

This is also in my mind. The style I'm writing now wouldn't suit the first one, and I'd be worried about ending up with a huge mess. And, regardless, I'm really proud of it and I am trying to sell it, so I'm not tinkering for now.

But if it didn't sell, I'd then have to decide whether to epublish or go back to it later. This has given me some hope that it is possible to revisit and make it work, if it doesn't now.

Million words? I'm well on the way :)
 

HareBrain

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Cannibalised for parts -- some into my current WIP, a couple more for the next project. I started my first twenty years ago, and it belongs to a much younger me, which is probably why more recent attempts to revive it have led nowhere. A shame in a way, as some elements I doubt I'll ever better.
 

Boneman

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I wrote my first book in 2006 and it's been rewritten about 18 times, seriously. I still intend to finish the trilogy (got 60,000 words into book 2 before stopping) at some time in the future, after the current book (trilogy) has run its course. Stephen King dumped 'Carrie' in the bin and his wife fished it out, so I reckon it's better to keep any work you've done. I've mentioned this before, but when I'm a successfully published author, I'll release the first draft of my first book, just to show had bad it was... I'm seriously embarrassed by how awful it was, but seriously pleased at how much I've learnt since then.:)
 

billhafan

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I like films that keep the spirit of the books - S
Hi Springs,

As I,Brian says, its certainly a marathon, and not a sprint - though not sure about burning a million words first :eek: !

That, unfortunately happened to me due to a malicious virus back in the 80's when I lost all of my first WIP to a nasty little thing called Tequila on my first PC, a non-hard-drive Amstrad. Just couldn't get back into it, and in retrospect, I should have started a different project, but genuinely couldn't get it out of my head! I finally started re-writing it again in the 90's and after lots of encouragement from friends and family who gave me honest and fair criticism, I went down the route of sending off the first 3 chapters to agents.

That was the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced - as many hadn't even taken the trouble to even look at it, yet were happy to send a skewed photocopied rejection slip ... that does get you down, I can tell you.

But don't give up!! I finally went all out to get it published a few months ago, and its now out in eBook and getting good reviews - so fingers crossed it will carry on that way!

I couldn't say how many times I re-read and re-wrote it, but I think the whole process has certainly improved my writing skills and the plot and characterisation; and now I'm busy writing my next Novel - with a real passion.

I've only recently found this site, but wish I had done so years ago - the advise I see here, the good ideas and the enthusiasm of those who are regulars would have kept me going. Writing, at most times, is quite a lonely thing and encouragement goes a long way, I'd say.
 

Dante DiBenedetto

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The million word thing is more of a benchmark for dedication than craft. After a million, you've seen your ups and downs, and written enough to look back and see how far you've actually progressed. You can always get better until the day you die, but if you're just starting, you're going to definitely be rough around the edges, even if you think what you wrote was the bee's knees.

If you don't nail it and get published your first time around, if that's your goal, don't get discouraged. Also, don't be disheartened by harsh critics, either; especially ones who are fellow writers, or avid readers. Those are the people that have a passion for the craft, and even if they don't realize it, they're letting you know that you can do better, and should.

There are two surefire ways to fail.

1. Give up
2. Try to please everyone

Avoid those pitfalls, and it's just a matter of time and determination.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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That was the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced - as many hadn't even taken the trouble to even look at it, yet were happy to send a skewed photocopied rejection slip ... that does get you down, I can tell you.

I always wonder how people know that agents or editors didn't read their submissions. Do the rejection slips say that they prefer to receive queries first and will not look at unsolicited submissions? Or do you figure it out some other way?
 

Stephen Palmer

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My first was written in 1986, and was rubbish. But I really enjoyed doing it, so I tried a different scenario... then another... and another... until 6 novels later I wrote 'Kray,' which got re-written top-to-toe 4 years later, which got sent out, which, 4 more years later and after another major re-write, got published.

It's a long trek, getting published... :rolleyes:
 

ctg

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What happened was that it got filed away in the "virtual desk-draw." And like with Boneman, it just got rewritten so many times that it didn't resemble anything like the first attempt, which I finished in three and half months. The second book didn't get much farther than sixty five thousand mark, before it got bogged down in the epic space battle. I just knew that I didn't know how to write it any further. So there was no point on trying to hit my head against the wall and think I was something better than anybody else.
 

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