Last week, I was pleased to announce the achievement of one of my major goals for the year (and for the last two years before that) with the release of my new picture book, Bella and the Blue Genie. In all the excitement about that long-overdue release, another significant achievement has fallen off the radar. Which is why the purpose of this post is to rectify that. Because it’s barely May and I’ve managed to achieve another of the milestones I set for myself at the beginning of the year. I’ve just completed a first draft of my new novel.
I feel like this is a major achievement. With all the upheaval over the last year, writing time has been at a premium. And this novel has been much more challenging than anything I’ve previously attempted for a number of reasons.
Firstly, there’s been the mix of genres. Most of my previous writing has sat comfortably between the genres of humour and fantasy – I suppose the easiest way to characterise these stories would be humorous fantasies. But this one has been more complex, with additional genres mixed in. In particularly, the addition of a strong romance element has required me to push my writing into areas I’ve never tried to go before (and anyone who knows me would probably understand what a stretch that’s likely to be – I’m not exactly romance guy number one).
Secondly, there’s been the fact that this novel contains a dual narrative. I’m basically telling two stories. But those stories are interconnected, so I always have to be sure they are properly paced and the progress in one matches the progress in the other, with key plot points spilling over and driving the other narrative.
The whole thing has clocked in at over 117K words. That’s way longer than anything I’ve ever attempted before. I have a feeling that once I’m done, it will be substantially shorter than that. I’m thinking maybe somewhere between 85-100K is probably a sweet spot.
So what next? First thing is to let it sit for a while. I’m thinking I may not come back to it until the beginning of next year. Then onto the serious business of rewriting. Given the whole thing is fairly pantsed, it’s pretty rough and ready at this point. When the time comes, I plan to do a complete remapping of the story. Some bits will go, some will move, and some completely new bits will be added. But working through the process of creating a first draft (crude as it may be) has helped me better understand the story and the characters in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if I’d tried to plot it out from the beginning.
It’s a long, slow process. I’ll probably do at least 2 and maybe even more full rewrites before I even think of showing it to an editor. And then there’ll be the various processes of editing and proofreading. It’s quite feasible that I won’t have it ready for release for another 4-5 years. That’s ok. I want to make it as good as it can be before I throw it out into the world.
And in the meantime, what’s next. I have a bunch of new projects on the boil. Mostly shorter things – children’s books (picture and otherwise). Ideas that shouldn’t take 5 years to come to fruition.
But for now, I’ll just sit back and enjoy the satisfaction of achieving another milestone.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as