My first finished novel (sort of)

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series All my novels

I’d always dreamed of writing novels—not in the “Yes, someday we’ll have enough money to retire early and/or work until the day we die” way that 90% of people do, just wishing they’d written a novel, but in the “Yes, of course, that’s going to happen within 5-10 years, I’ve already got it in the plan” way.

The plan got a jumpstart when my oldest (and then only) child was about 18 months old. I was so, so, so bored much of the time, despite a nice work-from-home position in search engine marketing. But it took a vivid dream to get me writing what would become my first finished novel . . . sort of.

I grabbed a leftover multi-subject spiral bound notebook and a pen and started writing.


The book stats

Title: Uhhh . . . Never titled it. The file name was always just “Nick and Kate.”
Genre: Historical romance (set in the US in the 1920s)
Inspiration: a dream
Writing dates: September – October 2007. Four weeks. Writing longhand, that was pretty impressive.
Length: ~43,000 words—that’s the “sort of.” As I soon discovered, technically this isn’t long enough to qualify as a novel. But I still count it.
Elevator pitch: Kate is an average small-town girl with above average aspirations. Meeting rich and worldly Nick wasn’t part of her plan, but she’s ready to try anything—if they can both leave behind the scars of the Great War.

What I learned from writing this book

This book taught me the passion and rapture of drafting! I stood at my kitchen counter while my son was playing (in the next room, but in sight), and lost myself in the story until I couldn’t write anymore.

I was able to carry the story through to the end for the first time. Woot! I also realized how much I enjoy dialogue—natural dialogue comes very easily for me, and I can spot unnatural dialogue pretty well. (Natural, however, != good all the time…)

Webster's 1956 DictionaryMost importantly, this book proved to me that I can do this! I can write a whole story, start to finish. I’d started a few stories and would-be novels, but always ran out of steam or passion or ideas. For the first time, I was able to get through the whole thing.

I shared this book with two people, ever. They were both very positive and encouraging, but another important thing I learned: novels are long. Without the drive to expand this story with significant subplots, I decided to shelve it. Next time, I vowed, I would get to a “real” novel length.

How about you? What was your first novel about? Come share!

Photo credits: spiral notebook—Damon Grosso; dictionary—AJ Marx via Flickr/CC

Series NavigationThe long road of publishingMaybe this novel thing is for me . . .

2 thoughts on “My first finished novel (sort of)”

  1. My first novel was written when I was 14. It had 45 major characters and no clear drive or ending. I wrote it in 1000 word chunks over one summer vacation (1000 words a day and 72,000 words total), and it was so very bad. So very, very, bad.

    But, it taught me that I could hit the word count. Two novels later I learned to plot a bit and hit ‘The End’.

    That first novel has my heart, but I know it’s not salvageable. 🙂

Comments are closed.