Update on My Novel: Month 32

DECEMBER STATS

Days Writing: 11
New Words: 3,393
New Chapters: 1

Total Word-count: 103,191
Total Chapters: 28

An Exciting Milestone)

Well…it’s done! It’s taken me a lot longer than I hoped, but I finally got my story from to a finished first draft!

I started this month knowing that I just needed to get through the final chapter, which I figured I would have done in just a week or two. But instead, I found myself revising it several times over, more than I’ve done with any other chapter, except perhaps the first. I guess I felt more pressure because I knew the last chapter of a story needs to be particularly strong, and I wanted to get down a solid direction for where I that final chapter needs to go.

How it Feels)

And now that it’s written, I’m pleased to say that I very much like how the story ends. This ending was something I kept changing my mind about, bouncing between three different paths for how it could go. Then I had a particularly strong moment of clarity for what the end needed to be, and I baked it into my outline. That clarity did not last forever, though, and from time-to-time I had my doubts. Still, I decided to see how it felt to write the planned ending in this first draft and then re-evaluate. And now that I have seen the vision executed, I’m a full believer again!

One last thing I’d like to share about how it feels to have finished this draft is that I am unexpectedly relieved. Yes, I know the work is far from done, that it isn’t nearly at the level of quality that it needs to be, that there are probably several more years before I’m ready to call this project finished, but I still feel set at ease knowing that if something horrible were to happen to me before I could finish this work, then at least all the ideas have already gotten out of me and onto the page. Anyone who cared to know my convictions and philosophies, who wanted to see the inner workings of my mind, could do so. Granted, not in the tidiest of packages, but they could do so all the same.

Looking Forward)

So, what’s the plan now? Well, I’ve received some feedback from other readers I want to incorporate, as well as clean up any problem sentences and resolve plot-holes. And as I go through making all of these corrections, I will also use it as an opportunity to take in the story as a whole and ask myself how I feel about the larger picture. As in, how do I feel about the pacing and main structure? Thus, I’ll triage all of the story’s biggest problems, and only after I’m done will I start performing any major surgery.

But before I get to any of that, there is one other thing that I already know I have to address. I don’t always have a very clear idea in my head of what each of my characters’ voices are like. I have found myself reading a line of dialogue and realizing that it could have been spoken by three different characters, their tones and mannerisms are that interchangeable.

And so, I’m going to go back to the original vision for each character and do some exercises to develop their voices further. I want to have an entire page of them speaking to me with all their little quirks and nuances showing through. Then, when I get to cleaning up the troubled areas, I’ll also be sure to rewrite the dialogue so that each line truly belongs to its speaker.

I had been considering taking a break for a month or two after finishing the first draft, but now that I’m here I really think the best thing is to keep moving forward. My commitment for January is to have all of my character analyses completed, and then a thousand words processed each day. Come back at the start of February when I’ll report on how things have gone. For now, though, here’s a sneak peek at the last chapter of my story.

“Please,” a soft voice whispers from behind. You turn and see Clara standing in the light of the flickering flame, tears upon her cheeks. “Please…you’re not going to let it hurt us again, are you?”

“I–I’m sorry,” you hear the words come out of your mouth, hesitant and heavy. “I’d like to not let it…but there’s no other way.”

“That isn’t true,” John steps out of the shadows as well. “You may deny it, but you know in your heart that that simply isn’t true. Every man and woman has his or her battle to fight in life, and this is yours. Turn your back on these stirrings inside of you now, and it will be a long time before the courage comes again.”

“What fight?” you weep. “There is nothing left to fight for! Everything good is already gone. You’re not here. You’re only memories! All of you are already dead!”

“No,” Eleanor emerges from the dark and places her hand on your shoulder. “The good never dies. You may crucify and bury us as many times as you wish, but we will always rise again. That is why you come and visit us, over and over again. You have thought it was to mourn what was lost, but it has been to give us a chance to spark something that still lives in your heart.”

“There is nothing in my heart!”

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