Nowhere Home–First Draft Complete

I made a small proclamation of victory back on the 24th of February on Twitter that I had finished my first draft of the sequel to NOWHERE WILD called NOWHERE HOME.

It was one of those things I couldn’t stop myself from doing, even though I knew I had a lot of work left to do on it. A first draft is just that. It’s just a draft, so I knew that I had a lot of work left to do on it, and it was definitely the first of what I presume to be many drafts before I get to the final version.

But before I could even let anyone else see it, I had to do a pass through edit to find what I call my standard “look-fors”—things I’ve learned to look for and revise or remove. I learned most of these things the hard way by making these mistakes in the past, and having a reader or an editor point them out to me. I keep a list of them in a OneNote document for review. Here’s the list as it stands right now:

    • Wrong Em Dash
    • And Issues search for “, and [a-z ]@ed *. “
    • Weak Verbs (get, got, gotten)
    • “There was”
    • “It was”
    • “There were”
    • Third person in internal dialog
    • Remove extra em-dashes
    • Remove “tried to”, “trying to”
    • Ensure “Yes,sir” “No, sir” is lowercased “, Sir.”
    • Lowercase “he said”, “she said”
    • .” said X (should be ,” said X
    • “^13 ” remove extra space at the start of a paragraph
    • “^p ” remove extra space after a paragraph
    • Toward not towards
    • Remove double spaces
    • Replace .” ([A-Z][a-z]@) said. With ,” ([A-Z][a-z]@) said.

Along with looking for searchable things like that, I also do a thorough read-through to manually search for passive voice, wasted words (the point has been made, get rid of any subsequent wasted words), word territory issues, formatting issues and general sucky writing.

Anyway, a first draft isn’t done for me until I get all of those steps done.

So today, I finished the real “First Draft” of NOWHERE HOME. I hit it hard this week, wanting to get through it quickly enough to keep the story flow in my head so I could also get a feel for the pacing—something I had a lot of trouble with in the early drafts of NOWHERE WILD. The result? I like this book. A lot. I’m also very tired, and my brain is Jello right now. I need a ten day nap.

I started this book in late August 2015 if I recall correctly, so this one took me about six months to write. I wrote mainly in the mornings for 45-60 minutes before starting work, and then any time I was sitting at one of my kids’ after-school or Saturday practices waiting for them. I wrote in a lounge in my office building. I wrote while sitting on bleachers. I wrote while sitting in the passenger seat of my car in parking lots next to ball fields, and on benches in a Karate Dojo and at a baseball training center. I wrote in the waiting room at the car dealership. And, of course, I wrote late at night in my office. If I had 30 minutes somewhere, I put my headphones in, my glasses on, opened up the laptop, and went to work.

This draft came in right around 94000 words which is about 20000 words longer than NOWHERE WILD, and the last page gave me both goose bumps and tears, so I think that’s pretty awesome for a first draft.

What’s next? Well for this book, it starts the rounds through my beta readers, and will likely sit on my shelf for a couple of months. Then I’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and read it through again, and see what I see.

In the meantime, I may go back to some of my previous, unpublished works, and see if they are worth working on. I may even look at one of the other outlines I had started last year to see if there’s any ‘there’ there. Or maybe there’s another idea that’s been stewing all these months, that will demand to be written. But not tonight.

But I also have a ton of stuff going on in the next two months, and I think my brain could use a little down time. My stack of books to read is still getting taller, so I need to spend some time on that, too. If I could spend a week on a beach in Hawaii, right now would be a really good time for it. I don’t see that happening though, so I’ll use the time wisely to dig out from my backlog of other things that need doing, and figure out what happens next in the Nowhere world.

Hey… that’s not a bad title for a book…. hmmm.

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