First Drafts, Beta Readers, and Novel Number Two
Well, it's been over a week since I finished the first draft of my first novel. Let's give you an update on what has happened since then. First, I celebrated. I didn't go overboard: I just had a double of my favorite scotch and relished in the fact that after seven years I'd finally completed the thing. The truth is, as great as it feels to finish the first draft, there's still a long way to go to get this thing ready for publication.
The next thing I did was do a quick read through, fix any glaring errors, and fix up some chapter breaks, taking some of the larger chapters and splitting in half to help maintain a more consistent chapter length throughout. A few redundancies in the text were also resolved. Again, this was done relatively quickly over a couple days, and I definitely expect similar issues are still present in the book. Which brings me to the next thing thing I did...
...I gave the book to a beta reader. This was, of course, the scariest part of the whole process. Why? In seven years the only person has seen a single word of what I've written has been me. This novel could be a piece of crap for all I know. I've grown very attached to it and the characters after all this time, but there's no guarantee that anyone else will "get" the story. I've asked my beta reader to not hold back and give me honest criticism that I can use to make the story better. It's scary to know my novel is being by someone who is, by instruction, looking for weaknesses, but it's necessary in order to have a strong final product worthy of being put out there.
With the novel being beta read now, I've had to force myself to step back from it. I haven't read it since I handed it off. I've thought about it, even thought of things I want to add or revise... but I'm not touching it. Instead, I've tried to focus on other things... like the next novel. Yes, one of the things I've struggled with as I've been working on this novel for so long is that I have other ideas in my head that are asking to be written. So, I've been taking some preliminary steps to organize my ideas for the next novel. I've even taken a stab at writing some scenes. Mostly, though, I've been exploring the main characters, and who I want them to be. The basic plot of the story I've had in my head for a few years now, even subplots and arcs have been thought through for some time now... but I never felt right delving too far into them before my first novel was even finished. I have no idea how far this planning will go, and eventually I'll have to step back from Novel Number Two to revisit Novel Number One and make it better, and eventually publish it and do my best to market it.
So, that's where I'm at now.