- Writing a novel is HARD. It is a LOT of work.
- Even after writing nearly all of your book, you still might feel a bit lost and confused. (Or, sometimes, even more lost and confused than you felt before you started!)
- 100,000 words sounds impressive, but it’s quality that counts, not quantity. And quality is so hard to come by!
- Writers are a very strange breed of masochists.
- You have to finish; you can’t give up; it’s not an option.
Yes, readers, I have written over 100,000 words. That is a lot of words. And I haven’t even written the ending yet! No, I don’t think the book will be nearly this long when I’m done, and yes, I am aware that this is way too long for a first novel. But writing so many words has been a really great thing for me—it helped me learn so much more about my characters and about their journey than I think I would have had I skipped some of those unnecessary scenes or boring days. A wise person once blogged, “Make every scene noteworthy; make sure something happens in each scene that is vital to the plot.” It is with this mindset that I will endeavor to cut tens of thousands of words out of my novel, not merely to shorten it but to improve it. Such will be my challenge.
So at this point in my novel, my characters have already embarked on their journey, traveled the entire distance, and made it to where they need to be for the final encounter. I know what’s going to happen, and I’ve written an outline for myself, but here’s the problem: I don’t find myself wanting to write it just yet. (Actually I find myself loathing the prospect.) My novel has lots (LOTS) of holes and gaps that need to be filled in before I can be entirely sure of the ending (or rather, of how exactly it will happen, down to each eye movement and gust of wind), and I’m therefore not very happy with my novel at the moment. I feel a bit discouraged, really, and I’m floundering. It’s kind of a scatterbrained, sluggish novel right now (or maybe it’s just my brain that’s scatterbrained and sluggish and I’m projecting those feelings onto my writing!) and I wonder if that might change enough during the revision process to impact the ending. There are a lot of really key elements that either need to be introduced or fleshed out toward the beginning of the novel for the end to be worthwhile, and I’ve realized recently that if I want to be even somewhat proud of the final result, the novel as a whole has to change drastically.
Yes, I know that every writer goes through this. I think that this is the necessary struggle that writers go through with their first novels (the first ones they write, not necessarily the first ones they get published) wherein it suddenly becomes apparent that the story isn’t the only thing that counts, nor are the characters. Finding a way to wrap three million little details into one coherent, smoothly flowing, interesting book is a task that seems nearly impossible--certainly one of the most daunting challenges a writer ever faces.
My question is, would it be terrible if I started the revision stage now without finishing the book first? Should I write down the whole ending, instead of just an outline, and then go back to do revisions after I’m done? I’ve written this until now in the NaNo state of mind: write write write and do not allow yourself to edit ANYTHING until you’re done. Is it okay to let go of that now and finally read back over what I’ve written to see if it’s even halfway decent? Or should I keep writing until I’m totally finished and only then allow myself to revise?
Answers to these questions and any other relevant ones would be greatly appreciated! :)