Last month, I completed a 54,000 word first draft of a novel.
So what now?
To put it in a nutshell, I have 3 (Big and Substantial) things left to do: Decisions, Research and Re-Writing.
Decisions: I need to decide once and for all exactly what genre my book falls under.
Different types of writing have different expectations that publishers want to see. Romance writing differs from suspense writing which differs from crime writing. So it's imperative to decide what my first book is fall under, so that I can appropriately direct my re-writing and novel elements, thus increasing the likelihood of publication.
The Mister and I went on a looooonnnngg walk on Sunday, and I detailed my book for him. This was the first time I had told anyone in detail about my book, and I was quite nervous and scared to do so. What if it was garbage? Or he laughed? Or he said it would likely be best if I just scrapped the whole deal.
Fortunately, none of those things happened and the conversation left me feeling energized and happily optimistic. He asked great questions, brainstormed plot details with me (his creativity is far zanier than mine, so I found brainstorming with him much more successful than just by myself) and offered feedback (funny, but once I got over my initial fear and just shared it, I didn't feel overly sensitive or worried anymore)
Lesson #1: Every author needs to find people great at brainstorming and asking the right sort of questions. Just don't let your fear of embarrassment hold you back.
I have also spent the last week or so reading different books and researching different writing genres.
I've come to the conclusion that my book is a Romantic Suspense.
With the first draft complete, I'm at a point where I with the next draft, I could turn the book into a Romantic Suspense, or a Suspense/Thriller.
After a lot of thought and reserach, I've decided that my book is a Romantic Suspense. One, because the book is essentially a love story (all romances have a Central Love Story and an emotionally satisfying ending) with a mystery as an integral part of the plot.
In turning it to a Suspense, I would have had to lessen the love story and beef up the mystery part. Both of which I do not feel I want to do with this particular story. That can be another book for another day, but this one just isn't it. I really like my characters in this book, and I love the whole process of them falling in love.
Lesson #2: After your first draft, there is an entire "business" side to polishing your work to make it suitable for publication. I learned the hard way that spending an entire morning and early afternoo on the computer researching can make you feel utterly overwhelmed and defeated. Best to learn a little and process it, bit by bit, no despondency required.
So, that was very exciting(!!!) to decide on a genre. Out of my three things left to do (and ooohhh, if they were only three simple things!), I can put a big Check next to Decisions.
Now that I've done that (Check!), I'm moving to the Research and Re-Write/Editing stage.
I need to research several details within my novel, like a characters' career, a university degree path and finalize some details to ensure consistency through out the book.
Armed with the research, I then need to re-write, re-organize and edit. With a genre in hand, I need to make sure my book moves along and contains the elements that publishers want to see (I need to crank up the heat a bit, since it's a romance!). I also have a lot of cleaning up, smoothing out and tying together to do.
At times it seems very overwhelming, but you can only eat an elephant a bite at a time (does that analogy creep anyone else out as much as me? I just wanted to write it down to see if I could feel okay with it being in my work. . ahhhh. . nope!)
I don't have any idea if this book will be publishable material, and honestly, I'm okay with that. I am very much enjoying the entire process. Someday, yes, maybe something will be published-- this or something entirely different. But each step is a step in the right direction, and I intend on making the most of it.