Monday, November 22, 2010

Finishing a Rough Draft

I just finished writing the final chapter of the rough draft of the third book in my Claire Hanover gift basket designer mystery series, and I'm celebrating! My goal was to finish it before the Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year holiday season and all the traveling I'll be doing during that time. I just made it!

Signing up to participate in Pikes Peak Writers' NaNoTryMo program (a variation on NaNoWriMo, where the goal doesn't have to be 50,000 words) helped a lot. Being on the hook to report my progress to others kept me working toward that goal of finishing the rough draft. Staying focused on writing scenes was tough when I was also working with my publicist on planning promotion for Deadly Currents, keeping these blog posts going, going to events, and all the other activities that a published author engages in.

Am I happy with the rough draft? Heck no! I'm never happy with my first drafts, which is why no one sees them, not even my critique group. I'm always convinced when I start writing a rough draft that I don't have another book in me and I won't be able to do it. Then when I finish it, I'm always convinced that it's the worst book I've ever written and no one will ever want to read it. This is the sixth novel-length manuscript that I've finished, and I still feel that way. But, I've learned to trust the process, to trust that between my own editing and my critique group's feedback, the manuscript will get better. And, when I reread sections while editing them, I often find gems and think to myself, "Wow, woman, you really can write."

So, the next step is to let the rough draft sit for awhile, say 3-4 weeks, and get some distance from it. Then I'll plunge back in and start editing. Usually I spend about 3 months editing a manuscript to whip it into shape. In the process, I convert what usually starts out as a lean 60-65,000 words to 70-75,000 words. This one will be at the high end of that range, since I have over 65,000 words now.

How about you? Finished any projects lately you'd like to crow about? I'd love to crow with you!


J.A. Kazimer said...

Congratulations, Beth. You amaze me with the sheer amount of work you put out, let alone the excellent quality and PR.

Cathy said...

Congratulations, Beth. I just passed 40,000 words on my NaNoWriMo rough draft. I appreciate your comments about not being pleased with that first draft. "Rough" is the right word!

Alan Orloff said...

Way to go, Beth! Just today, I finished a hopefully-close-to-the-last draft of my KILLER ROUTINE sequel. Now I have to catch up on all the stuff I've been putting off!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for the congrats, J.A., Cathy, and Alan! And Cathy, you've beat my word count goal for November. You go, girl!

Alan, are you delivering your manuscript to Midnight Ink soon? That's a special feeling, too, sending that baby bird out of the nest.

E. B. Davis said...

It was so nice to hear a published author say that they hate their rough draft! Thank you. I don't like being negative, but I also feel foolish when I'm over optimistic. I guess that I'd rather not be disappointed and more criticism moves a writer to a higher level--that's where I'm at right now, and trying to climb. Congratulations Beth!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Beth! You even came in under the wire. WooHoo!

I'm not having as successful a time with NaNoWriMo, but I can totally empathise with the emotional rollercoaster you ride after finishing a first draft.


Suzanne said...

Beth, I hate first drafts, too. For me, their purpose is to get to The End. After I've let a first draft sit for several weeks, I start what I consider the fun part of writing: fine tuning the plot and characters to create a ms. that readers enjoy. Usually, I've overwritten in my first draft, so in subsequent drafts, I focus on editing down the word count, tightening craft and suspense.

I just input changes from my editor and finished the fourth draft of my latest ms., REGULATED FOR MURDER. It's a great feeling, reaching this point with another ms. Too bad I have to come down off the high and start another first draft. LOL

Suzanne Adair

Mario Acevedo said...

Great post. I go through the same agonizing process. However, I never have the chance to set the manuscript aside to get distance before I start the rewrite, though that is a wonderful idea. I'm one chapter shy of finishing my current WIP. Go NaNoWriMo!

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks, E.B., Alyx, Suzanne and Mario,
and good luck on finishing that last chapter soon, Mario. Hopefully we can celebrate the end of YOUR first draft this month, too. :)