The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Surviving a 256 Page Novel Draft

Have you ever heard of the Little Engine That Could? “I think I can, I think I can” and all that? If you take that approach to churning out the first draft of a novel manuscript, then I suppose that means the light at the end of the tunnel is coming from you, the ‘little engine that could’ embodied.

It’s a silly metaphor, but it rings true. In the end, writing a novel is not a spectator sport. Sure, it’s great to have people cheering you on, waiting at the finish line with colorful flags waving in the breeze, patting you on the back and handing you ice cream (and yes, okay, probably wine as well), but it isn’t necessary. The only person who must absolutely be on your side, from beginning to end, is YOU. How do you think writers who had everyone against them ever finished anything?

Can you tell I just finished something monumental? (For me, anyway) I’m waxing poetical, AGAIN.

But anyway, all joking aside, I’m pleased to announce that yesterday, my second complete novel draft, a work tentatively titled SOULREADER, sang its swan song. I typed ‘THE END’ with 82,448 words on my Microsoft Word wordcounter. That’s 60% longer than my first completed work, DON’T WAKE ME UP, a NaNoWriMo 2012 project which ended at 50,200 words. The thing about this new work, though, is that I feel much more confident in it. Does it need a lot of work? Um, YES. Is it a thousand times better than DWMU? YES, again. But DWMU, as I said, was a NaNo project. The 30 day deadline doesn’t lend itself to quality. SOULREADER took 53 days to draft. It’s still about the same wordcount per day, but I also thoroughly planned it out before I typed a single word.

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What’s next for SOULREADER? Well, it’s all printed out and housed in a shiny binder, where it will stay until December 1. I’m still planning on participating in NaNoWriMo, crazy as that sounds. As soon as I’m finished with my insane November, SOULREADER is coming off the shelf for the read-through and first round of edits. After that, I’m hoping to find 3 or 4 beta readers, people with a strong eye for edits, who will send me their thoughts when they’ve finished. During that month I’ll allot for them to read, I will probably be starting edits on my NaNoWriMo novel. Then I’ll get SOULREADER back with their notes and start another round of edits. During which I’ll be sending out my NaNo novel. And so on.

It’s a busy life I have scheduled for myself in the coming months, but I’m more excited than ever. I’m also looking forward to potentially getting an internship position with a literary agency, so those two things, plus my school workload, will keep me very busy indeed. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything at all.

Watch this space for news! Thanks for following my crazy, writing life šŸ™‚

~Jenna DeVillier

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About Jenna

I am 24 years old, with a bachelor's degree in English. I am currently querying a YA fantasy about assassins and magical powers, and I'm revising another YA fantasy based on Mayan civilization!
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