Even if you are a full-time writer, which I am not, and you manage to whip out a 50k first draft during NaNoWriMo, don’t open the champagne just yet, because your work has only just begun.
Personally, it took me nine months of writing chapters on my lunch breaks, while my daughter was in dance class or when my son was at floor hockey to dish out my first draft. Back then, just over a year ago from today, it sat at a mere 38k words. That’s not a whole lot when compared to other YA fantasy novels.
When I completed it, I remember feeling so proud that I had finally gotten it all out! At last, a novel I could call my own! Little did I know, that at its length, it would be considered a novella and that most publishers looking at YA Fantasy were expecting at least 50-80 thousand words. My heart sank a tiny bit then and I began to doubt my ability as a writer and an epic fantasy storyteller.
Sure, experts say that the hardest part of the writing process is to just get your first draft down on paper. While it may be true that it’s no easy feat completing a novel in only a month, many first time authors fail to realize just how much works comes into play after the draft is finished.
Although tedious, I did find editing fun, heck I’ve been editing this post for days. Admittedly, it was nerve wracking having people critique my work, but it allowed me to see my story from a different perspective and discover what was missing. It helped me improve as a writer. I was also fortunate enough to join a really great community on Wattpad (#NBR) that focused on highlighting different authors each week. When we were highlighted, we would receive hundreds of comments that included priceless feedback for the serious beginner.
Presently, I find myself more knowledgeable about fiction writing and what it takes to get a story ready for publication. World building and character development can be challenging, as well as expanding your vocabulary and learning all the different ways to say “he ran” or “she went”.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to show through my words, rather than simply tell my readers what’s happening. Yet I still find that I start a story with more telling and then develop more showing later. Though I find with each new story I develop, it gets easier and easier to create a sensory experience for the reader.
It’s taken a year, in between all the other stories I’ve started, my home life, my job at the library and my freelance writing contracts, but I finally have my first novel ready to be sent out. It now sits just under 50k, and while it’s still not EPIC, it just may turn out to be.
So I continue my quest to publication. Still researching all my options, not getting any closer to narrowing down my list of publishers. It just keeps growing and growing and growing. More work, but good work. I want to learn the Writer’s Market through and through and I’ve realized I’m not in any kind of hurry.