The first draft is finished!

I fall back in my chair, exhausted. This morning I completed the last chapter of the first draft of my strange novel, The Sleep of Reason.

I say that with some reluctance, fully aware that I have a long way to go even to say that the first draft is truly finished. The story had taken some unexpected twists and turns, including one major revelation coming late in the writing that I had not prepared for in the earlier chapters. I have whole scenes I must rewrite, certain characters to remove and others to bring in. Many characters, including my protagonist, must be given new names. I have to impose some sort of weather references to each chapter (since the story transpires over about a year and a half), and just this morning I came to the understanding of exactly which day of which month the story must end. (That was a handy revelation since it anchors the passage of time, and now I can work backward from there, knowing precisely when in the calendar year each scene takes place.) And there are those 20,000 words of notes I need to plow through yet again to glean whatever brilliant ideas I had that I’ve utterly forgotten.

The last chapter — as it stands this morning — comes in at a mere 800 words. That may grow a bit as I work on the depiction of the evolution of my protagonist’s psychology, but really no more needs to be said in that chapter.

This mere 800 words means it is literally one-tenth the size of the first chapter. I’ve spoken here before of some thoughts I’ve had about reworking that first chapter to give the opening a bigger hook. This would involve removing about the first third of the chapter, but it’s all good stuff that provides important background, so I’d have to contrive a way to insert it later. In the coming days I hope to get an overall word count and, of course, I need to make my copious backups.

And then comes the recasting of the entire novel with a third-person narrator — a job I will get to after I’ve read through my first-person draft a few times and tinkered with all of the things I talk about above. I still haven’t decided just what persona my narrator will have. Work, work, work!

I expected a sort of euphoria when I reached this point, and maybe that will come, but I’ve been far more serious about this work than I ever was with any of the apprentice novels I’ve written. So we shall see how my mood swings in the days to come.

Explore posts in the same categories: Humble efforts, Sleep of Reason


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4 Comments on “The first draft is finished!”

  1. Pete Says:

    Congrats, Paul. Looking forward to reading it someday.

  2. J.M. Reep Says:

    I envy you, sir. Well done!

  3. Brian Keaney Says:


  4. Beth Says:


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