Drafting a New Novel

After I finished all my revisions and sent out all my requested materials, I had a huge chunk of free time. Gasp.

Ofc, I don’t like facing a giant blank day. No, I don’t. Even if it’s fun stuff, I want it on my to-do list.

And it’s fun stuff. This week, I’ve been getting back to my third book. The YA story I started in October (and drafted 25k words). But from November-April, I had to revert to revisions on my other two manuscripts for conferences.

So poor third book got shunted to the side. I always start a new project as soon as I complete the other manuscript. But I never complete the drafting in one pass.

Weirdly, this works well for me. Those first 130 pages sat around from November-April. And when I reread them last week, I realized plot points didn’t make sense, the order of things needed to be tweaked and certain subplots could be tossed out the window. Ah, the beauty of emotional distance. I also added more conflict and changed the villain around.

I also realized my original story concept was great but I no longer wanted the original ending. So I started drafting a synopsis so I could figure out where the story should end.

This week, I typed in all my edits and added a few new scenes. I’m now at 28K words. Next week, I plan to go back to my 1k a day drafting rule.

I’m excited to get back into this story, but it was a little rough switching gears. I’d just spent 8 weeks with my other novel. Which made these characters feel foreign. I felt clumsy writing them. But now I think I’m back in their world again.

So from Mid-April to early June, I plan to finish drafting this third novel. I’ll put it aside a month, then revise.

Ah back to self-imposed deadlines. How I missed you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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44 Responses to Drafting a New Novel

  1. I can’t believe how much self-discipline you have. I don’t know whether it’s inspiring or depressing – a bit of both maybe! I am terrible about making myself work when I don’t have a deadline – if I didn’t have them at the newspaper I don’t think I’d ever get anything done at all! Well done for being so organised – I guess it shows how much you love what you do.

    • Thanks! I’m just one of those obnoxious type A personalities. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like order and itineraries. Let’s just say when I travel the guidebook is highlighted, dog-eared and I’ve personally starred all the sights I want to see.

      I sometimes wish I was more of a procrastinator. But I’ve come to accept this is how I am and work with it.

      • crubin says:

        Always nice to discover fellow Type A-ers. Oh, how our families adore us!

        I think your method of putting a piece of work on the back burner for awhile before going back to rewrite it is smart. Once I get a little more work under my belt, I imagine myself doing the same thing. Distance often improves insight, I think.

        • My mom is always amazed at how schedule oriented I am, but my room is a mess. A mess where I know where everything is though. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          I’ve heard lots of advice for writing the first draft in one pass. And I think that’s great. If you can block out 2-4 months for drafting and you can maintain creativity for that entire period. I found my writing goes a bit downhill after 25k in a month. I need a break from drafting and creating, or the well gets a little dry. Distance definitely improves insight. And things that were placeholders can be removed and replaced with good writing. Also some parts of the plot that I struggled with, I was able to say, “That doesn’t work,” and delete it.

  2. kathils says:

    Ah…I know how you feel! And starting into a “draft” again, after polishing and editing — it sometimes makes me feel like I forgot how to write! I have to remind myself to just get the story down and not fall into rewriteritis.

    • Exactly. They are two totally different skillsets. And the time away meant I had to re-read those 130 pages to get back into the story. Ofc, I couldn’t help editing them. But I think I’m ready to start drafting the next pages and throw some really crappy stuff on the page and keep moving. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Marc Schuster says:

    Switching gears from one project to another is always hard. But it gives us valuable perspective, too!

  4. I think it’s great you give yourself deadlines. Good luck with the new story, exciting!

    • Thanks Victoria. At this point, I’ve learned how much I can draft and the 1k a day thing works for me. So it’s easier to set a realistic deadline. If I don’t set deadlines, it’s harder to motivate to do things. Yeah, I’m interested to get back to these characters and see where this book goes.

  5. kford2007 says:

    sounds like you’ve got a plan. Keep us posted and good luck with those self-imposed deadlines. I’ve got a few of my own I’m wrestling with. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Cat Forsley says:

    CAT XO

    • Aw thanks Catherine! Your support means so much! Yes, 11 days left. Exciting and nerve wracking. If I make it to the semi-finals, Penguin editors read my entire manuscript. That’s so huge. Hoping I get there.

      • Cat Forsley says:


        • From your lips to the universe’s ears. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for believing in me so much!
          Aw thanks so much, I’ll pop over and check that out ASAP.

          Have an awesome weekend,

  7. Self imposed deadlines….and the best of creative juices flowing- two of the best things in the world ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy writing, Kourtney!

  8. jbw0123 says:

    What a milestone. Best wishes on this next big project.

  9. So you’re at a new party…but you know some of the characters already – all you have to do is catch up with them and see how their lives are going.
    Some writers work like painters – cover the canvas with an under color ( to get past the what to do with a blank canvas – and to set the general tone), then quickly and impulsively throw on big areas of color ( setting general large shapes and lights and darks) , then finally tightening it up with details and sharpen the textures and contrasts – voila! Done.
    Sounds like you are well underway.

    • Almost like a high school reunion (though I never attended one). I remember who everyone was but I’m not sure they stayed the same. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Some characters decided to go in a new direction, so we get re-acquainted. I like your painting analogy a lot.

  10. So much fun, diving back into a “new” work. I’m about to do the same. I also find that writing lots and quickly makes for better story, in my case, anyway. Sounds like you’ve found an awesome rhythm that works well for you. Can’t wait to share in the newest part of your journey. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’ve read so much advice about how that first draft should be gotten down in one run through. That’s definitely the best case scenario, but life had a way of interceding with me. So I ended up drafting 1/2 or 1/3 of a book then pausing for 4-6 months to revise other manuscripts. I guess I adjusted to that and now it works for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Glad to be diving into a new work at the same time as you!

  11. Wow. Good for you. I love to write, but the editing and redrafts can be tedious. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks! I like and dislike different aspects of each part of the process. Drafting is very creative, and I love not knowing how each scene will play out, but it also can tire me out to have to create everything from scratch. Revising is fun because it gives me the opportunity to make everything better. To trim loose threads in the plot. To polish everything. The more time I spend doing each, the more I come to appreciate them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. klynwurth says:

    You’re a dynamo, Kourtney! In a good way…write on.

  13. jmmcdowell says:

    I’ll probably have similar feelings when I go back to the partial sequels I started for my two main novels. I haven’t looked at them in a long time. And now with beta review back on the second draft of one, I’m focusing on those revisions now. It’s amazing how time and distance give us fresh insight into those first drafts!

    But I think you’ll be off and running again with the new story in no time. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It amazes me how much my writing grows in 6 months. I can spot different issues that I used to be unable to see. Time is so essential. I think it helps to have another story in draft too. That way you have less pressure. If one story ends up becoming impossible to fix, you can work on the other one, and eventually cycle back to it with fresh eyes. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hope so! I like this story and always meant to get back to it. I spent several months just thinking about it. And most of last summer deciding how it would start. Starting and ending novels are the hardest part for me.

  14. Pete Denton says:

    It’s great to get back into a story and self-imposed deadlines are the best! Happy writing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pete, those self-imposed deadlines are nice. I get to manage myself. Though the meetings when I’m behind schedule are rough. It’s so hard to lie to yourself. ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Happy Writing to you too!

  15. Life is strangely empty without writing deadlines in place.

    • Simon, I get this gut-twisting fear as I move toward the end of a novel. I can’t contemplate ending one project without knowing the next one waiting for me.

      • I go through the exact same thing, Kourtney! I really worry if, at the end of one manuscript, I don’t have an idea for my next project!

        • Oh good! Because it felt a little weird to not be 100% happy to finish a project unless I had some idea of what I’ll work on next. I figured most people would just bask in the doneness and then dive into work again after a suitable rest.

  16. 4amWriter says:

    I have several unfinished projects lying around. I’m not one of those writers who can juggle a bunch of different storylines or casts of characters at the same time. I think dealing with one is hard enough!

    But I love knowing that I have them waiting for me, so that when I do have downtime (for instance, when I’m queryiing or if I’ve exchanged work with another writer) then I can pick one and mess around with it.

    I’m happy that you have another book you focus your energy on, too.

    • I can’t switch between projects easily either. I tried drafting one book and editing another simultaneously. It just split my attention. I’d rather immerse myself in one story world at a time. Glad you have other unfinished projects waiting. It’s nice to know what comes next. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Ottabelle says:

    Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚ happy to hear about it.

  18. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    Wow. U r busy. What is storyline on this book or can’t u say. Work hard. We want to buy your books. Just saying. When do we hear on amazon. Good luck.

    • I like to write 6 days a week. If I’m not drafting, I have to be revising. No more than a week off unless I’m on a trip. Aw thanks so much Berry! I’m hoping one of my books finds an agent and editor soon! I hear if I made the semi-finals on April 24th. But the final winner isn’t announced until sometimes in June. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a 6 month long contest.

  19. Funny what you do with novels. Mine take years – I’m always at some stage of drafting a new one, but a year later it never looks any good, so back to the drawing board!

    • Writing improves with time. That’s a blessing and a curse. Everything I wrote a year or more ago has to be revisited and brought up to my current level. But I think it’s about getting the novel good enough to submit. Not perfect. Not without flaws. Just as polished as you can. Then you send it out. I once heard at a writing conference how writers don’t finish book, they abandon books. We put as much into it as we can until we have nothing left to give that book. ๐Ÿ™‚

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