Finishing The First Draft of my 3rd WIP

This is what it feels like to write “The End” on my third novel. I see the entire thing clearly and am delighted by the ending. I’m ready to put it aside for a month or two.

Long enough that I can see the faults in my star. Then I’ll revise for a few months and pass it to betas. But right now, I just want to bask in the completeness of the story.

And this week, I’m taking a break.

Ten pounds of stress drained out of my neck on Monday afternoon when I realized that’s my ending. And the first draft is dunzo!

This is the book that refused to adhere to my outline. Each chapter was hijacked by the characters.

It was a terribly fret-filled and heart-jerking writing experience.

And it required an act of pure faith. To put aside what I thought should happen and let the characters tell me what happened.

I never had any idea how the book would end until I typed it. This was a source of massive writer anxiety. It was like driving on an unfamiliar road in complete fog. I could only see a few feet in front of me and never had any idea what was around the bend. Half the time I thought the book would careen off a cliff. The other half, I was sure we’d end up wrapped around a tree.

And it’s one of those things you don’t tell many people. Because saying it makes it too real. So I shared it with my crit partner but otherwise tried to keep it inside.

The last 15K were the hardest of my life to draft. I didn’t know where I was going. Because I wasn’t leading. I was being tugged along by the characters and made to tell the story as it happened to them.

And when I took that first breath after typing “The End” I knew this was how the book had to end. This was the only way the story could be told. And I felt that rush of joy in knowing I captured their story as they wanted it.



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44 Responses to Finishing The First Draft of my 3rd WIP

  1. Cat Forsley says:

    WOWZA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    i am so Happy For You !
    what a rush ๐Ÿ™‚
    beautiful write about Your writing xo

    • Thanks! It might have been the hardest book I ever wrote because the ending was clear at the beginning and muddled the rest of the way. I actually had no idea what would happen until I wrote it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Cat Forsley says:

        That’s Truly beautiful ………
        ๐Ÿ™‚ knowing the end !
        Congrats K ……………………

        • And such a relief. Because I couldn’t see it coming together, I wasn’t sure it would come together. But then it did. And whew seemed like I’d always been headed toward that point (I just didn’t know it).

          Thanks C!

  2. Congrats on finishing
    It’s a great feeling
    I just finished one to, but I don’t have the luxury of letting it breath — right into editing
    You are doing it right though
    Good luck with it!

  3. kford2007 says:

    Congratulations, my dear! You’ve accomplished what many writers don’t.

    • Thanks! It was something I started working on in October. Then November-April became revision time on older manuscripts. I finally got back to it in mid-April. I would have been done in early June but for the neck problem. ๐Ÿ™‚ That 1k a day/5 days a week really works.

  4. crubin says:

    Congrats! What a great feeling, for sure. Glad you’re taking some time off. Sounds like you’ve earned it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. CC MacKenzie says:

    Well done!! Follow your gut, it won’t let you down!

  6. zelmare says:

    Congratulations! That must be such a huge relief. Wow. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Congrats, Kourtney! Every novel finished is a huge accomplishment. I can’t wait to hear more about your latest and read it along with your other work someday. Enjoy your well-deserved time off. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks August! Each one seems like the one I won’t be able to finish. And then I go back through my blog posts and realize that is oddly normal. Once it’s revised and beta tested, I’ll definitely reveal more about it. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks! It’s nice to take a staycation from writing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. K. Lyn Wurth says:

    Good work! It’s great that you can stop and enjoy this great accomplishment in your process. We can become so concerned with goals of editing and publication that we forget to celebrate milestones. Writing is a rich way to live. I’m glad you can taste it along the way. Bravo!

    • There are so many milestones and markers along the way to publication, but I started to lose sight of the wins along the way because I wasn’t getting published. So I decided to celebrate every milestone and hope they all culminate in publication, but if not, I get to have one heck of a fun journey. ๐Ÿ™‚ Writing is such a beautiful way to move through time, I can’t imagine my life without it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Good on you, Girl! That is a huge accomplishment! I wish you great success. Enjoy your well-deserved break.

  10. jmmcdowell says:

    It sounds like your characters took your for a bit of a “pantsing” ride ๐Ÿ™‚

    Enjoy the time away from it to let your internal editor prepare for the next round!

    • It was weird, I felt very in the driver seat for the first 150 pages. Or at least like a passenger reading a map. The last 150 was terrifying. I started to dread sitting down because I never saw ahead. It was like I was a psychic who lost my gift. I just had to wait for things to unfold. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks. I’m a firm believer in breaks from novels and people and pretty much everything in life. It’s only when you walk away that you know you made the choice to walk back. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. What an inspiration to those of us who ALWAYS feel this way when we write. I am so glad you were brave enough to keep going back to it through the terror. I look forward to reading it eventually!

    • Thanks Audrey! Wow, you have tremendous courage to keep writing if that’s how the process always goes for you. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was hard because I started doubting myself and thinking I’m going to mess this up. I’m a total type A so not following my outline for too long makes me queasy. It’s got a lot of revision and polishing to go, but I’m hoping to have it ready for winter/spring 2013. Then I’ll add a little excerpt to my website. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. 4amWriter says:

    I know what you mean about assuming your story is going to go in one direction, and then it veers into another direction. This is why I am anti-outline. I know, I know–lots of people swear by them. But I feel like if I don’t run with the first draft then I miss out on exploring all the possibilities.

    Finishing a book is an amazing accomplishment. Make sure that you treat yourself to something nice while you take your break. You deserve it.

    • It’s funny my first book really adhered to the outline but with that book the plot came to me before the characters. The next two were characters first and they were harder to write because they kept diverging from the outline. The third book ended at a 180 from where I thought it would. But that’s part of the fun and anxiety of the first draft. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like having an outline during the middle because it’s so easy to lose my way there. The outline keeps me on track. I think of it as Google directions. Nice to have when I start the journey but it doesn’t preclude me from making pit stops and getting off to see weird attractions along the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ I try to celebrate the milestones because there are so many on the way to a polished manuscript. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. La La says:

    Congrats. I’m still at “I don’t know where to begin.”

    • Thanks! If it helps, your beginning and your ending will be the most revised parts of your book so whatever you write first will probably get tossed out later. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think of the entire first draft as a mix of semi-brilliance and many placeholders for future brilliance. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. EllaDee says:

    What you elucidate so wonderfullyin your post has a quite a resemblence to my life from time to time, so I can understand your relief at the current pause. It’s nice to have space to breathe, re-group, assess and proceed. All the best for the next stage ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Yikes! Number three!!! Way to go, Kourtney. I love that you had a different writing experience with this one.

  16. A big wahoo!!!!!!! And I like that you were led by your characters. I’m thinking that signifies a character-driven story. The best kind.

  17. Congrats! I love that feeling of hitting the “End,” I just finished one last month. Good luck on your revisions.

  18. Nothing good is ever easy! (So your novel must be great!) Glad you fought it through. (surely your characters appreciate being brought to life…even though, like children they may not say so…)
    YEA for you! Enjoy the (brief) plateau of rest and calm.

    • True. This is just the first plateau. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s a cool concept, but a first draft pretty much is a hot mess. ๐Ÿ™‚ Am glad to have completed the skeleton. Will wait until fall to fill in the muscle tone. ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL. My characters pretty much decided they always existed and I should be grateful they told me their story.

  19. congratulations on completing, Kourtney! Big milestone! And, in my experience, it’s those stories where the characters hijack your plans, that are by far the juiciest and best ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks! I’m glad to have that under my belt. Now I can concentrate on revisions on my other book. ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s the first book where that really happened so I’ll be interested to see how agents react to it when it’s all polished up in the winter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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