First Draft Finished-Next Steps

Dragonlady

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I've just finished the first draft of my work in progress, at 80,472 words. I've only achieved this feat once before as a teenager. I know i've progressed as a writer, because I couldn't fault that one, and this one, I know is in need of serious work to get it up to standard.

I already have some idea of things that will need editing/revising, and will start by plotting out the outline. I'll need to visit each character's arc, for example, and there are some bits I can go back and add in / look at now I know how it ends, as well as continuing research and world building. I will have a good read on here when I get the chance of all the advice, but any tips are welcome.

That includes things like how to stay motivated and how to measure progress. I have ADHD, and a child, and a job, and managed to get this written in just over a year by writing in 300 word increments (i won't say 300 words a day as I didn't manage it anything like every day). Keeping up the revision and redrafting phases feels much more daunting.
 

alexvss

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I've just finished the first draft of my work in progress, at 80,472 words. I've only achieved this feat once before as a teenager. I know i've progressed as a writer, because I couldn't fault that one, and this one, I know is in need of serious work to get it up to standard.

I already have some idea of things that will need editing/revising, and will start by plotting out the outline. I'll need to visit each character's arc, for example, and there are some bits I can go back and add in / look at now I know how it ends, as well as continuing research and world building. I will have a good read on here when I get the chance of all the advice, but any tips are welcome.

That includes things like how to stay motivated and how to measure progress. I have ADHD, and a child, and a job, and managed to get this written in just over a year by writing in 300 word increments (i won't say 300 words a day as I didn't manage it anything like every day). Keeping up the revision and redrafting phases feels much more daunting.
After finishing the first draft, one thing Stephen King advises in On Writing is to let the manuscript rest for a few weeks, i.e, refrain from tweaking it for a while. When you finally come back to it, you’ll see it with fresh eyes.

I agree with Jo. If you make writing a routine, things will be much more feasible. Choose a time of the day to work on your writing and do nothing else during that time.
 

sknox

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Janice Hardy has an invaluable site. Of the many resources there, you'll find extensive essays on revision and on editing (two different things).
Revision and Editing
also, not on the list on that page is her revision in 31 days series
At-Home Workshop: Revise Your Novel in 31 Days

I'm sure you'll find plenty in there of use!

And a personal postscript. As valuable as are Hardy's essays, they all feel like they come from an author innately more organized than I am. I feel like I have to get my manuscript to a certain point before I can even begin to make use of her advice, and the gap between my First Draft and that point looms dishearteningly large.

That gap. I declare First Draft when I have all the scenes, or nearly so, and have the basic arc of the story all the way to The End. There are plot holes, small bits of "something goes here" or "needs better transition" but the story is there. That's not an objective assessment, it's just a feeling that I've got the story on paper. Now I need to make it readable. After that comes making it professional.

This is where I'm at in my own WIP. The work here is hard. Hard to stay motivated, hard to find good solutions, hard to find ways to get into a scene and make it better (and consistent!) without having to rewrite it from scratch. I tend to go through the entire manuscript--I print it--and make notes on the side; sometimes inline and sometimes on separate cards. I proceed chapter by chapter, and what I find tends to fall into three groups. One is the chapter that's ok as it stands. There will be copyediting to be done, but no revisions.

The second is a chapter where I can clearly identify what needs to be done. This is usually a combination of inline notes and external notes, but taken together I can see what needs fixing and how to fix it.

The third group is the mess. It's a chapter that has become a grab-bag of scenes, fragments, and even descriptions of a scene rather than the scene itself. It's not only incomplete, it's highly likely that entire sections will wind up somewhere else, get rewritten fundamentally, or tossed entirely. It's where heavy lifting still needs doing, the heaviest being figuring out what needs doing and how to go about it. My goal there is simply to get the thing improved so it moves into Group 2.

Eventually, everything winds up in Group One. At that point, the novel is not just in better shape, it's ready for a copyedit run.

Somewhere prior to that point, but closer to it than I am now (!), I start reviewing Hardy's essays. Because she has good advice on how to improve a character arc, or how to work in theme across the novel. If I try to apply that too early, the story is still too messy to make much use of the advice. It's late in the revision that works best for me. And that earlier stage of revision is, alas, entirely on my own shoulders.

Anyway, I hope that's of some help. But do take a look at Hardy's Fiction University.
 
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Dragonlady

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THanks @sknox ,good advice there re chapters/scenes. I am probably in a similar position, there are bits where I shrugged and kept going where I got stuck, transitions that don't happen, characters without names, it is very much a draft zero. I'll have a look at Hardy's stuff, it does look useful. I have a sense already of some areas it's weak, hopefully those resources will help with dealing with them.

@alexvss Thanks, I try to keep to a routine, but life intervenes, and sometimes I don't have the brain in the evenings, so 'x amount of time/words as close to daily as i can manage' tends to work. I don't plan on leaving it because it's a l ong time since I saw the beginning, and I can already see some of the weaknesses. Finishing off the (rather weak) ending has seemed like a chore as my brain has already moved on from it in some ways. I know everyone has a different preference on that side of things. But I will work in time to read/research, and to work on my writing skills a bit in between.
 

sknox

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FWIW, I don't like having goals. I work when I can. I do try to set apart a time of day--I'm retired and know what a luxury time is, though days stay busier than one might guess. But life does indeed intervene and I stopped long ago worrying about that. I'm never going to write all the stories I can think of and so, as with everything else in life, I'll get as far as I get.

Or, to invoke one of my (many) favorite sayings: to be sure of hitting your target, just shoot. Whatever you hit, call that the target.
 

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