I finished the third draft of The Quiet Ones.
I was going to write this post two days ago, because that was when I thought I’d finished, but it’s just as well I didn’t, because while on a long train journey yesterday I read through the draft and found a section that I’d forgotten to rewrite to take into account a scene I cut, and I also figured out a way to make the ending a lot better.
So this morning, I did that, and now it’s finished. It’s been a long journey. Even longer than the train journey during which I read the draft through and kept making myself laugh with the random French revolution jokes that are dotted through the novel. Hey, even if no one else thinks they’re funny, at least I appreciate them.
I started writing this draft on December 16th, so it’s taken me over two months to complete this draft. Okay, that may not sound like a lot, but for me that’s slow – especially for a rewrite. Just for a comparison, I thought I’d think about how long my other novels have taken me.
Those written for NaNoWriMo have been unfeasibly fast, mostly, and my average speed tends to be about a month. Last year, I started out writing a second draft of the final Death and Fairies book, which took me from the first of January until the eighteenth of February and totalled nearly 113,000 words. I went on from there to spend a bit under two months (21st Feb until 11th April) writing a first draft of Forget My Wings, which was 108k, and followed it up by spending exactly a month working on the second draft of The Quiet Ones (72k).
Even the novel I wrote at the point when my hands died still worked out taking me just over a month – though it felt a lot longer, and was a really difficult process. So for this novel to have taken me so long was at first a negative thing. There have been a lot of moments along the way when I’ve just wanted it to be finished already, sick to death of writing myself into corners and getting stuck there.
But now that it’s done I can look back with pride because actually, two months and a handful of days is not a bad amount of time for everything that changed. You can see it in something very simple: the first draft was 62k, the second 72k, and the third 96k. I must have added something – I wrote an overview to try and see where that extra 24k might have come from.
- I followed the instructions of my beta readers to bring the antagonist in earlier, which totally derailed the entire plot from quite an early stage.
- I reworked the relationship between two of the main characters and introduced another subplot.
- I rethought the hierarchy and setup of the organisations within the novel, which changed a large section towards the end.
- I doubled my cast of named characters and increased the sense of community between them.
- I included a lot more description, most of which revolved around my characters’ fashion choices, but which entertained me.
- I ended it at a slightly later stage in the story, concluding everything that needed to be concluded but also setting it up for a potential sequel if in a couple of years time I decide that’s what I want to write.
- My characters are as hilarious as my comments in the hovertext of my pictures. Which you’re missing, probably.
- It had a happy ending.
About that last point, I have a confession to make … I might be getting soft. I don’t know. I couldn’t help it! The first draft wasn’t exactly happy, but I guess most people were alive and nothing had gone majorly off the rails, so that was a success. The second draft was slightly better than that, although the character had still lost some aspects of her old life before the events of the novel.
But then this version … well, I actually couldn’t help it. It was weird.
Yesterday I went to York, and while I was there I came across a shop called ‘The Armoury’ – I had to be restrained from buying a sword, I swear. I also ran into a guy on a bus who looked like a young version of TQO character David, then awkwardly made eye contact with him and spent the rest of the day avoiding him because he was at the same visit day as me and it was very awkward.
We walked past market stalls selling axes and bows, which made me feel like I was walking through Middle Earth or something and was astonished to find no elves or dwarves replenishing their weapons supply. By the time we left, I’d come to a very definite conclusion: there are knights in York. There must be. It’s impossible that there aren’t.
I’m celebrating finishing The Quiet Ones but I’m also feeling a little apprehensive about the decision I made not to write any more novels until I’ve done my A Levels. The last time I distanced myself from writing (or was forcibly distanced by my hands), it was an incredibly difficult period. However, I think the fact that it’s my choice and I know I can go back at any times ought to make a difference.
I’ll be working on a few shorter projects in the meantime, some of which may be very silly. One of them may or may not involve a lot of Shakespearean humour. And of course, I’ve promised the others that I’ll contribute to St Mall’s b2 before the half term is over, though I haven’t done it yet because I was right at the crucial stage with editing The Quiet Ones.
However, not-writing probably means I won’t have as many writing-related ideas for blog posts, unless they’re things I come across trying my hand at short stories and fan fic in moments of boredom, so you can probably expect reading-related observations instead. Well, reading and dance and schoolwork and everything else I do when I’m not frantically scribbling novels.
For the vast majority of you, into whose lives The Quiet Ones will not enter for a good while yet (if ever), this post may seem uninteresting. Forgive me – having finally finished it, I’m inclined to shout from the rooftops that I WROTE MYSELF OUT OF ALL THOSE CORNERS AND I THINK I DID OKAY.
And in the meantime, enjoy the photos of York I’ve dotted throughout this post. I’m off to write about The Aeneid and figure out how the subjunctive mood actually works in French, because I still don’t get it.