As some of you may know, I recently completed a novel for the first time. After two failed attempts to complete manuscripts before, just the fact that I wrote “The End” was an accomplishment to me. I took some time away from the book in attempt to return to it with a fresh perspective. What I saw upon my return, however, shocked and disappointed me. My finished book, the one I spent three months writing, was not worth reading. Many find it difficult to admit this about their own creations – believe me, it took me a while to accept the fact myself. In spite of how disappointed I was by the first draft of my book, there are invaluable lessons that I learned throughout the process.
Many might say that I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself, a first draft is never as good, and it was only the first novel I ever completed. However, when I finished writing the manuscript, my writing substantially improved. Editing didn’t take as much effort as it used to – even though there were still times when I had to rewrite a piece seven to eight times before I became satisfied with it. Therefore, when I got back to my novel, I noticed that it was written below my own standards. What I noticed, hence, was the first advantage of writing a terrible first novel: it made me a better writer.
When I started writing my book in January 2014, I had a clear idea of how the story will begin and end, the genre, and the main conflict of the plot. However, other than that, I had not much more to build on. I started to discover my characters as I went along, and the plot changed as well depending on what I had written before. It wasn’t planned, and it looked like it. Therefore, my second lesson was to pay more attention to plotting and characterization.
Initially ,I only began writing the novel just to prove to myself that I was able to write one. I was eager to finish the book since I had already failed twice at that, so the most important part of the manuscript was the final chapter. When I started reading my first draft, I could tell that I had rushed through writing it. Even in the places where I thickened the plot felt uninspired to me. The third lesson I learned was to take my time.
Research is invaluable, I came to realize. Even though the subject I tackled was familiar to me, had I not had the knowledge about that subject, writing that novel – as modest as it turned out to be – would’ve been impossible and would’ve placed the novel at an even lower standard. In fact, the most appealing part of the manuscript, in my opinion, was my description of society and places.
However, in spite of my knowledge in the subject, I felt that it was of no more interest to me after a while. Many may tell you to write about what you know; however, I learned that I needed to find a subject that flares a lasting interest in me. Writing one novel could sometimes take years. If a writer’s interest in the subject he’s tackling fades, what’s the point of writing? Sure enough, the reader will lose interest just as well.
There’s not enough time in the world to learn every tip and trick to write a great novel. Everybody has to start somewhere. Armed by the lessons I learned and the experience I gained, I continue my writing adventure. All I can do is write, and learn as I go. I wonder what I am going to learn today.
What are some of the lessons you learned in your early experience as writers?