Some time ago I wrote a blog post First Thoughts Reading My First Draft. I shared some of the earth-shattering thoughts that popped into my mind during my very first proper read through. It was amazing. Check it out.
Now, many moons later, I’ve read my novel about 26,359 times and it’s beginning to lose all meaning. I may as well be looking at Egyptian hieroglyphs. (I’d rather be looking at Egyptian hieroglyphs because they are fascinating). I’ve also lost count of which draft number I am up to, and have been referring to this one as Eleventy-Threeve. The final draft. Final – meaning it’s at a stage where I can’t go much further without involving someone else, whether that be beta readers, editors, etc. Not actually final, in that it’s going to be published like this. Oh ho ho, no no no.
Without further ado, here are some (fairly superficial) thoughts I had, and recorded, while reading Draft Eleventy-Threeve:
- There’s a bit of drinking that occurs in my novel, and for some reason, the characters just love to hold their glasses ‘aloft’. They can’t just hold their glasses. They hold them ‘aloft’. Despite this observation, there are not too many spillages of the contents of the glass, only a few.
- Many things are ‘wedged’ – shoes into suitcases, people between other people, bottles of wine (drinks again) onto tables… There is an overall sense that everything is very cramped and therefore, that objects must be wedged in order to fit amongst other objects.
- I am very specific about which hand characters hold things in. I’ve got a character holding a bag in their right hand and a plate of chips in their left hand. And another character has a phone in their left hand and their right hand is in their pocket. I’m apparently unable to leave readers wondering what the right hand is doing, if I’ve placed an object into their left hand, and vice versa.
- It’s breezy in the fictional town of Coveton where my novel is set. I counted 23 breezes in total. Breezes occur daily in real life – multiple times per day, in fact. I’m even witnessing a breeze this very moment. Therefore, this is totally acceptable in fiction, no? Readers will surely question the realism of the setting if there hasn’t been a breeze in a while.
- Not only are characters holding things specifically in their right and/or left hands, they are also turning. A lot. They turn to other characters frequently. Over 100 times in 300 pages of story. But – how else will the reader know who they are talking to or looking at, if they don’t turn to face them, riiiight?
- If I thought turning was in excess, imagine how shocked I was to discover 135 instances of sitting. But be honest – are you sitting right now?
- And speaking of sitting, all the chairs in Coveton are swivel chairs. Everyone is swivelling in their damn chairs.
- A mention of ‘two halves’. Well, yes. Isn’t that obvious?
- All the characters are ‘making their way’. They ‘make their way’ down a hallway. They ‘make their way’ across the lawn. This phrase will ‘make it’s way’ off the page with a bit of help from the backspace key.
- A caution on research. Double check your facts! I was certain that ‘sating’ was an exciting new fabric I hadn’t heard of but it turns out that it was a misspelling of ‘satin’. Look, I don’t know much about sewing or fabric. But what I do now know, is that main character Sylvie’s dress is made of satin, not sating. Thank you.
- My girl Sylvie has some pent up aggression. At least five times in the story, she mentions wanting to slap someone or shake some sense into them. And you know what? I’m leaving those in.
- Everyone is still pretty sweaty.
- Again, I can still read this a lot faster than I would a published book. Why? Is it because I know what’s going to happen? Is it because I’ve essentially memorised it?
- Good news. The story works a lot better in first person. (At the first draft read-through, it was in third person).
There you have it! Even though it’s not really the final, final draft, I feel a sense of achievement at having gotten to this stage. What happens next remains to be seen. I will reflect on that as I turn to my husband and hold my glass aloft in a toast to my success, while a tranquil autumn breeze floats through the open window. (And I’m legit sitting on a swivel chair right now). Hurrah!