Yup, it's official. I've finished the first draft of my second novel length piece of fiction. At just shy of 120,000 words it is by far the longest single thing I have written.
Some of you may be asking, "second novel length piece"? Yes, this is in fact the second thing I've written that could be considered "novel" length. The first was...lets just call it a trunk novel and leave it at that. It was a good thing to do but a terrible thing by the end. It taught me an important lesson though, that I could sustain the effort of writing a novel.
The big difference between that first novel and the recently completed one is that my second novel can be saved. Right now it's a first draft, a rough first draft, but I've learned so much during the writing of it, from writing it and a few short stories, that I can see where I went wrong and how to fix it. Not so with the first novel. I couldn't see anyway of fixing that one.
Here's a few other things I learned with this novel:
1. Don't outline as much - I spent way too much time working on an outline that ended up getting hacked to bits in the end. Next time I write I put in the major things I want to happen in each chapter and then work out how to do it when it comes time to write.
2. Prepare less - Going along with point one, I don't need to work out the full cast of characters beforehand, since I'm going to create characters as I need them anyways and change them as I write. I should also only worldbuild as much as required and leave as much blank space as possible.
3. Record more - Since there's going to be less prep and outlining on my next novel I will need to keep a set of notes on the important parts. Also, I kept having great ideas for the next draft as I wrote. If I hadn't been keeping notes on them I would've given in to the temptation to start revising before the first draft was done.
4. Finish the draft - As stated in number 3, it was hard to resist the urge to start revisions. I'm not talking about going back and inserting a little bit of foreshadowing for a piece I wrote later on; that I did do. No, I'm talking about when I realized the major flaws in the first draft and what needed to be done to fix them. If I'd done so I'd never finish though. Thankfully I listened to cooler and much wiser heads and pushed on to the end of the draft.
So where does this leave me? I have a draft and a plan, and after a short break I'm diving back in to make this the best thing I've ever written.