First Draft Thrill

Finishing a first draft is one of the best feelings. I had to leave a draft for a Mills and Boon Modern (50,000 words) at 37K over the summer holidays, making the whole exercise uncertain. I worry constantly that inspiration will suddenly abandon me if I don’t get the story down or that it will take a sudden turn. But I’m gradually learning that writing, although creative, is not only a practised skill, but also mostly a matter of simple output.

No book has flashes of brilliance in every sentence and it probably wouldn’t be much fun to read if it did. It’s about the story, which means, for me, it’s about the plan. Now that I am fully committed to planning a full project before starting, it’s mostly an exercise in ‘just write the thing’!! I had a few slow days diving back into the story after the long break, but I knew exactly what needed to happen and that I was roughly on track with wordcount (and 5K tolerance in a draft is fine – in fact, up to 5K under is helpful for a draft). I bumbled along at about 1,500 words a day for a little while between appointments and commitments and then I was suddenly on the downhill stretch and the last scenes just flowed right out. I just hit 49K at the end of the epilogue.

And now I can celebrate! I’ve finished my third full book this year, despite spending January tidying up an old one and having six weeks off over summer. Well, I still have to edit this one, but it’s well on its way. After my wobble (see this post), a reread to get back into it convinced me the premise was sound and the characters settled. I’m happy with the ending, so it’s well on its way to being satisfactory.

There are always concerns, particularly commercial concerns. I tend to write what I’d like to read and struggle to find, which means I’m focussing on what distinguishes my work from others while I’m writing, rather than emphasising similarities between what I write and established authors. But it’s those similarities that sell a book (or, in an author’s case, allow me to pitch the book).

As this is the second in a series aimed at M&B Modern, the synergies with the line are even more important. The main concern here is that although I’ve definitely written an alpha hero, as per guidelines, I also have an alpha heroine. It leads to lots of sparks, but it also means there are a few differences from a typical Modern. I like to toe that line between the promises of the line and a fresh take on old tropes. I do love the promise of the line, so it will be in my mind during editing to make sure the heroine takes the reader with her throughout and that the gorgeous, tough hero who falls in love first still carries the hallmarks of a Modern hero.

Cheers! *virtual prosecco*

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