I’ve read countless articles, posts and excerpts from books on what to do once your first draft is done. While there are some similar themes, I guess I’ll lob my hat into the arena now that I’ve completed 3 full first drafts in my young career.
So, you did it! The first draft on your novel manuscript is finished and you just leaned back in your chair from your computer/typewriter/notepad/stone tablet.
Writing a novel takes passion and determination. Writing it well takes skill and experience. Combine all four and your first draft is well on its way to publication.
So… what now?
Quite universally, many writers agree on one point: take a break from that work. While I don’t believe there is any set timeframe for your return to that draft, I do believe you must give it at least a day. Wake up the next day and don’t look at it. Go to sleep and don’t think about it. If you will absolutely explode by going a day without writing, then I suggest blogging, working on another manuscript or banging out a new piece of flash fiction.
In my case, I completely detach myself from writing. I play some games, watch some TV or engage is similar mindless activity. A vacation for the brain & heart isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After that vacation, I start thinking about the first draft and I make little notes on my iPhone or scrap pieces of paper.
– Spend more time in location X, conversation with Bob
– Maybe character X should live after all
– Be sure to check X on the next read through for consistency
– etc, etc
Then -and you’ll know when- return to the first draft when you have 4+ hours to work on it, uninterrupted. Have your notes handy and plow through the entire manuscript. Why the whole thing? Well, novels are rarely written in one sitting. And unless you have a perfect memory (my is full of radiation leaks – your mileage may vary), some things just won’t jive. Perhaps you duplicated a conversation between characters. Usually, there are many inconsistencies or things that make you say “what the fuck was I saying here?” It’s helpful to read the work as a whole and make those changes.
Some writers don’t even edit on this read-through (and they’ll give advice to that process). Well, I believe each writer is different and my only advice is try to read the whole thing in that sitting. If you can make edits as well, go for it. There’s no right or wrong answer there.
In any case, you’ll have your second draft done after that sitting (or the sitting thereafter) and you’re on to the next step!
What is that next step, you ask? Well, when I get there with Babylon, I’ll certainly share my thoughts on the subject!
[my notes on the 2nd draft and beyond: http://wp.me/pXrOJ-iC]