Another Draft in the Books: Take That, 2020!

When I jumped back into drafting this manuscript a few weeks ago, I didn’t expect to finish this quickly, but here we are! At 56,229 words, it’s much shorter than I was shooting for. This means I only added about 25,000 words to the existing partial manuscript I drafted and rewrote several times last year, but I’ll take it!

I can’t help but compare the two drafts I completed this year, as my drafting experience was very different. Even though I technically started this second book first, for the purposes of this comparison, I’m going to call the book I finished drafting in the spring Book One and this Book Two.

I finished drafting Book One at the height of COVID stress, with my kids and husband all home, and for some reason, words were really flowing out of me. I think I just channeled everything into writing. The result was a 90,983-word draft. I have never written a first draft anywhere close to that before. Obviously I was escaping into excess words at the time, because that book was definitely too long. I ended up chopping 11,000 words before I sent it to my agent.

Book Two, on the other hand… well, now I’m firmly in COVID fatigue. Which means the words are not flowing like they did earlier this year. Book Two has had a rocky path. I tried pantsing it last year, and when I stalled out on it, I set it aside. Before returning to this draft, I spent a considerable amount of time outlining both the existing partial and remainder of the novel. All that being said, I’m not concerned that my draft is on the short side. It’s not unusual for me to write shorter drafts–just to get through this awful part of the process–and go back to fill everything in later.

A few years ago, I wrote a book in reverse (yes, starting with the last chapter and working backward), and that book came out at about 55,000 words as well. I entered that book in PitchWars at 60,000 words and added another 10,000 words with my mentors before querying it.

I sort of feel like this book has been written out of order, with taking nearly a year away from it. For sure it’s very uneven, with a heavily revised first half and second half that’s mainly dialogue and movement beats. But I also know that my true strength lies in revising, and that’s where I’ll go back in and add description and emotion (something I inevitably skip in a first draft).

Usually I finish writing a draft and think, “This is a mess, but I still love it.” I didn’t quite feel that way yesterday. More leaning on the messy side. But let’s just blame the COVID fatigue, shall we?

I’m still going to celebrate, because I FINISHED ANOTHER DRAFT!

Responses to “Another Draft in the Books: Take That, 2020!”

  1. Karen Faszold

    Woohoo! Glad you got through it! Can’t wait until it is my turn to read….


    • Michelle I. Mason

      It has Tae Kwon Do! But it will probably be a while since it will require lots of revising :).

  2. Rosi Hollinbeck

    Hi Michelle, I think congratulations are in order. Between the stress of the pandemic and the stress of the election, I have hardly written a word this year. I am in awe of what you have done. Good luck with both your manuscripts.

    • Michelle I. Mason

      Thank you, Rosi! You are definitely not alone in that struggle. I’ve heard the same from many writing friends. Hoping for a brighter 2021!


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