Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finishing a First Draft

It's coming... really.
Let's just say, I've got a sketchy track record of completing first drafts. When I first wrote Multiples of Six, it took me 5 years, on and off, to complete the first draft. But, during that time, I also managed to crank out a 63,000-word YA fantasy in a matter of 6 months (not published). So, when it came time to put together the first draft of Multiples follow up, Divisible by Six, I was feeling pretty confident. So confident, that I made promises of 6-10 months. That was obviously a mistake. Two years later, I'm finally finished with the first draft. Yeah, I might've oversold it by 18 months or so. My bad.

So, what is it about the thrillers that bogs me down? Well, right off the bat, it's a much more complicated plot scheme. Multiples had 2 distinct plot lines. Divisible ramps it up a notch with 4. Four plot lines that have to intertwine and come to a resolution (of sorts) by the end of book 2. It was a first for me. Most of the other stories I've written have been fairly straightforward linear plots from the perspective of 1 or 2 characters, tops. Four was a pretty big jump.

But, the mere complication of the plot wasn't what slowed me the most. You see, and it shames me to admit it but, I'm a lazy writer. Not in the sense of form and function, but in the sense that I need someone to stand over me and crack a whip. I'm too easily distracted and even more so when the writing doesn't come easy. I overcame this recently by finding a group (which I detailed in a past blog) to act as my whip. It's just a group that meets to sit and write, but it was exactly what I needed. It gave me two islands of time during the week in which to focus solely on my writing and it accelerated my completion time immensely.

Writing a novel is as much about story creation as it is about putting one word after another until it's finished. You can have brilliant ideas pouring out every orifice in your body, but unless you take the time to crank out the words, all you have are ideas that might be good stories. I definitely envy my colleagues who can regularly crank out a novel every six months. Maybe I'll get there some day. For now, I'm just content with the good things I've got going on. I'm looking forward to getting Divisible finished up soon and the trilogy's finale, Power of Six, started.

Have you struggled to finish that first draft? Would love to hear about your experience.


  1. Good posting, Andy - and congrats on finishing your first draft.

    I can relate. I started my first book, a novella, last Fall. Since it's pretty short, I thought it would just take me a month or so to do. But, like you, I had a lot of other things distract me and it took many more months to do than I expected.

    Like you, I made myself get into the habit of making the time to sit down and write - no matter what else might be distracting me. Not always easy to do, but it feels awesome when the work is done!

  2. Thanks Buddy! Definitely a load off. Good luck with the novella!

  3. I love writing groups. I go out two or three times a week to write with others and when I do, I usually work on my novel. It keeps you moving forward.

    Nice article. I'm glad to know that I'm not alone when it comes to taking a few years to finish a book!