For me, it’s not getting the idea that I find difficult. I don’t struggle with the blank page, nor with the first chapter. Sometimes, I do find the middle of the novel a little bit slow, but if I sit on it for a few hours, I usually figure out how to fix it. Writing the end isn’t too bad.
What I find the hardest is revising. Every novel needs it. There’s no such thing as a first draft that’s ready to publish. It may be good, great, or even fantastic, but it’s not finishe yet. It may not be good. Don’t spend time worrying if it’s good or not. It’s a first draft. Parts of it will be bad. Other parts might leave you in awe of yourself, and that’s an interesting feeling. You might ask, “Did I really write that?”
As you revise, step into your characters’ heads again, but in a different way. This will help you get rid of the things your characters wouldn’t say. Is a sentence spoken by a two-year-old going to contain a semicolon? Does that teacher really swear when there are kids in the room? Maybe so, but these are questions only your characters can answer.
Also look for holes in the plot. Did the police forget to look at the crime scene? No problem. Add that. If you revise carefully, your readers won’t know that part was added later. Read the book as a whole and try and catch anything that doesn’t make sense or that you didn’t return to later. Did the manager drop his keys but later you forgot to have that promotion-seeking employee find them and sneak into the manager’s office to read those confidential reports? If you plan and outline, this kind of thing might happen less often, but nobody’s perfect, and it’s easy to miss adding something or add things you didn’t plan when you’re caught up in the adventure of writing your novel.
A spellcheck never hurts, and you’ll probably need to do more than one as typos can and do creep into revisions.
If you don’t like the beginning, the middle, or the ending, change it / them. Make a copy of the original and again after major revisions so you have them to go back to in case you decide you don’t like something you added or wish you could recover something you took out. Even if you know something doesn’t belong, sometimes you just have to keep something for yourself. Maybe those pages will turn into another story.
Once you’ve revised your book, you’ll be so much happier with it. It will be better, greater, and more fantastic than your first draft. It still won’t be ready for the shelves, but that’s for another post.
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