I recently finished the first draft of my latest novel. It was puzzlingly short. It was running at 49,000 words – just about long enough for a young adult novel but certainly much shorter than the other two in the cycle. The first one is published and started out at about 100,000 words but was edited back to 95,000 words. The second, as yet unpublished, is also about 100,000 words.
Normally a second draft will only involve putting a few extra bits and pieces. This time I’m putting in eight new chapters. I’m changing from a third person narrative to a first person. I’m bringing in a second point of view character and in fact he commands the opening chapters.
I’ve also have to firm up five subplots, making sure there is a firm story arc in each one.
I didn’t enjoy writing that first draft and was very unsatisfied with the whole story. I didn’t like my characters all that much.
Some of the spur to action came from a SCBWI North West critique group. I knew there was something wrong with the text, but I just didn’t know what. After that meeting I could see it quite clearly.
The changes that I have to make are massive. Yet, I’m getting on with them at quite a pace and I’m enjoying the story. I like my characters more- even the ones we’re not supposed to like.Perhaps having a very bad first draft actually put me in quite a strong position.