What My First Novel Taught Me
For those of you who don’t know, I started writing my first real book when I was 13 years old. It was a teen fantasy following a male protagonist in a made up fantasy world I called Forever (Lame I know. I was 13. You'll be happy to know it's now called Fidalia). The book is called Summer’s Revenge and this month marks the 7th year anniversary of its conception. A lot of authors end up abandoning their first novels and I totally get that, but Summer’s Revenge is something I haven’t been able to give up on. I’ve spent the whole month doing the 9th draft based on my Critique Partner’s feedback and I’m happy to say this story is finally becoming something I can truly be proud of.
Today, I’m going to talk about what this book has taught me over the past 7 years and how it has made me into the writer and author I am today.
First and foremost, this book has taught me the difference between good and bad writing. When I started the first draft of this story, I really had no idea what I was doing and was basically emulating all my favourite authors in one. I made a lot of rookie mistakes – like starting the book with the weather and having the main character directly describe what he looked like. *insert facepalm here* I did a lot of telling rather than showing and to top it all off, the finished first draft capped off at a grand total of 46,000 words. To put that into perspective: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has 76,000 words. So yes, looking back at the earlier drafts of this book is very humbling. It reminds me that I used to be a horrible writer, but it also reminds me that I’ve improved and that I will continue to do so.
Summer’s Revenge has also taught me acceptance when it comes to my writing. I spent years expecting it to be my first published book and even ‘planned’ several releases for it. (If you’re an old follower on Instagram, you might remember that) But they all fell through and eventually I came to the realization that Summer’s Revenge would not be my debut novel. At first, I was heartbroken, but then I came to accept that the best thing for the story and my writing career was to shelve it for a while, and to come back to it when I had the skill to make it what it needed to be. I did however ‘publish’ Summer’s Revenge and its sequel on Wattpad, as I wanted it to be read and was afraid it would never be published. Yet, fear not, it’s on my list and will be on my shelf in published form sometime in the next couple years.
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned from my debut novel is the craft of writing itself. This book has challenged me. I’m on draft 9 people and I haven’t even gotten to the beta reader stage yet. (If you remember, I published draft 8 of Silent Night) The difference is astounding, but necessary. Summer’s Revenge was a garbage heap for a long time. I’m willing to admit that now, but it took several years to do so. The book has taught me so much about revisions and having a critical eye for my own work. It’s forced me to be truly honest with myself. I’ve completely overhauled the first quarter of the book multiple times. I’ve added a whole new POV. I even rewrote the culture and appearances of an entire kingdom in draft 8. (Fun fact: I didn’t bother to worldbuild until draft 8) I’ve cut a lot of words working on this book, but I’ve also added, so it’s sitting at roughly 98k. Much more book worthy now.
Summer’s Revenge has been a lesson from the very start and I have no doubt that it will continue to challenge me up until I’m holding the finished book in my hands. Writing is not an easy road and our first attempts can certainly feel like shouting into the void, but if you don’t try, you’ll never know. Those first attempts always lead to something better. They’re the first steps in your journey. Where will you go?
Thank you guys for reading. It’s been a while since I’ve truly talked to anyone about this book, so this was a treat. I’ll be back next month with more content for you guys, so stay tuned and, as always, keep writing.