This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I’m fairly confident that hating your manuscript and thinking that you’re writing the biggest pile of poop in the world are key components of any first draft. Yet in between novels I seem to forget this, and it isn’t long after I start the dreaded first draft that the hating begins.
I get an initial giddy buzz when I begin a book. I’ve had that idea rattling around my brain, probably for ages, and it has finally grown into a fully-fledged idea. I then get my nice fresh document open on my laptop and it reminds me of that new stationery feeling you used to get at school; all those shiny possibilities. But then I get to the twenty thousand word hump. I’ve talked of this before. It’s that does-my-manuscript-have-legs-or-is-it-a-pile-of-pony stage. At twenty thousand words you’ve invested enough blood, sweat and tears into it, but not so many that you can’t walk away. Once I get to thirty thousand, I’ve crossed that milestone and I’m happy.
The next brick wall I hit, seems to be at around fifty thousand words. I think this is when the manuscript has grown its legs and is starting to run away with itself. I’ve got over the top of the hill and it looks like the end is in sight. So, why is it at this point, the fear and loathing kicks in again? This time it’s different from the twenty thousand word hump, I’m too invested to give up; I'm past the halfway point.
Whilst I try and make sure that I write through the humps of the novel quickly, and write what I call a quick and dirty first draft (full of amazing typos and plot holes) I’ve also come up with a new way to beat the loathing. I was getting upset and grumpy that my book had no plot, so I told my husband the major twists and turns in the story, whilst we were on a long dog walk. By the end of it, not only had I realised that the book actually did have a plot (phew), but that it actually sounded good. And whilst my husband has to say it’s amazing, the physical action of talking it through and not just seeing it in black and white in my notes, or on the PC, actually made my ideas come to life.
I’m now at sixty thousand words and I’m hoping that I’m over the last hump of the first draft. I’m at the exciting stage where the strands of the plot come together in the dramatic climax, and I’m no longer fearing and loathing the first draft.
What are your novel humps? And how do you cure your manuscript loathing?