I think I might have finished the first draft of my current work-in-progress. I know that it could go on forever in some ways, but I feel like my characters are saying that this is it, it’s enough, it’s the slice of life they wanted told and they don’t need me anymore to keep on living their lives.

This is extremely scary, because I’m going to be embarking on my first second draft now. I don’t even know where to begin. If anyone has any tips for me, I’d be grateful.

I’m feeling overwhelmed. I finished yesterday, but today I’m beginning to really understand the meaning of having finished the first draft. I feel a little bereft, a little lonely, but also gratified and fulfilled. The human capacity for emotion is a strange thing indeed.


8 thoughts on “Finished?

  1. blueghoul says:

    Congratulations on finishing! I’ve felt the same way before, with the characters sort of just being…done. With them saying that that was it, that they can’t go on anymore, or that there’s nothing much else to say anymore. And with the last part, with the finishing and feeling satisfied, and yet a tad lonely, after finishing…It’s strange. But definitely a lovely sort of feeling.

    What I’d suggest is to do now wait. Wait as long as you can before starting the second draft. Catch up on reading. Live life a bit. Wait so you can clear your head of the storyline, so you can work some distance to it before trying to edit and revise your draft, to rework and rewrite scenes. It’ll probably be best to revise when you can do so objectively. Right now, since you’ve just finished, you’re still probably a little too close to the story, too close to judge it and kill your darlings, or rather, to pick which darlings to kill.

    I’ve read before to wait a month if you can before starting to edit, but I’d say to wait as long as you need to. Work on something else, maybe. Do something in the meantime. But wait. Wait so you can see the first draft with fresh eyes and get your writer-lens off to edit. As to the editing itself…I’ve heard some people read over once purely for story, and another time checking sentence structure, checking dialogue a different time, and then flow the next day, etc. Breaking it up to different read-throughs for different story aspects, sort of.

    Wish you the best of luck with that second draft!

    • Thank you for the thoughtful, in-depth comment! And even more thanks for your advice – I think I’m going to do just what you said, take some time away from the manuscript.

  2. That is fantastic! I hope you’ve given yourself a huge pat on the back! As Blueghoul has said, I think letting your first draft sit for a bit before digging in is a really good idea.

  3. Erin M says:

    Congratulations on the first draft! =D

    I definitely get that bereft, lonely feeling when I finish a story. Like, “what now?” After spending all that time with the characters . . .

    When you’re ready to look at the story again (I’d give it at least a couple weeks, maybe a month, unless you really have an urge to work on it because you’re sure what you want to do with it), read through the manuscript with a coloured pen and a highlighter (or the equivalents in Word) and make notes to yourself of what you think works, what might be confusing, jumbled sentence structure, loose ends you need to tie up, dialogue or actions that seem out of character . . . I can send you a list of some things to look for, if you want?

    (And if you’d ever like me to read through anything, let me know!)

  4. Congratulations! I’m a huge fan of revisions, and I’ve come to love the process even more than the initial writing. I subscribe to the theory of making multiple passes through a manuscript, looking for a few things each time, until every character and scene has a reason for being there.

    Sometimes I leave a lot of time before revisions, and other times I plunge in. The big thing to ask yourself is “what is my story about?” Once you know that, it’ll be easier to think about what belongs, what should be added and what you need to scrap.

    I recently did a guest post on revision over on Emerald Barnes’ blog,, and that might help as a kickstart or at least to give you an idea of how other folks approach this process. The comments are great, too.

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