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  • Writer's pictureEmily

"The End"

Yesterday I finished the first draft of book 2! This story has been rolling around my head in circles for more than two years but it’s taken me until this month to write it down. And I think I know why…

As I mentioned in my last post, working with my two editors on The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow was a huge learning experience for me. I got to the end of the process and remember proudly announcing that I understood storytelling now! I understood plot! I would take all this learning into my next book! It will be so different! I was wildly excited about not having to revise a story a zillion times before I could give it to anyone to read.

So I went into Book 2 confident that I would completely understand my plot and my characters before I tried to write it out. That I would not have to rewrite every sentence of my first draft. That it wouldn’t take so long… So I waited and waited and waited for that special moment where I knew everything I needed to know and could begin writing…

But of course that isn’t how it works.

A screenshot of a word document with the sentence: "Through xxxxxxx, until they arrived at x."
An extract from my first draft

My stories grow slowly and wonkily around something that I’m interested in thinking about. They spread strange arms and legs that don’t really belong, they gather characters that have their own purposes and interests, they move away from a question and circle back to it. They are not team players. I have sat for a very long time trying to shape this story into a neat tight exciting plot divided into neat tight exciting chapters before I write it. But that doesn’t work for me.

The only way I can start to get to know the story is to have something (anything!) written down in its full lumpy strange misshapen full-of-holes messy glory. From odd beginning to bewildering end. It is not an efficient process. It means that it will take at least two full revisions before it makes sense as a story. Characters will come and go, plot lines will dramatically change, whole chunks will be deleted. But I know I will get there in the end.

So now I’m starting the slow intriguing work of seeing what this story is, and where it wants to go. There are forests, there are libraries, there are two very determined, very brave young girls...

What do your first drafts look like? Do you like to plan each story before you write it?


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