And thar she blows. After a manic couple of days where I've written 8,000 words and feel exhausted, the first draft of My Family and Other Ghosts is now complete. Phew!
Parts four and five worked out roughly how I'd anticipated, although I did rename two chapters in the last part in order to give Erica and Daniel their time in the sun.
As i was halfway through part four, I decided that it would be much neater to wrap up the primary story at the end of that part, and to have part five acting more like an epilogue, nicely wrapping up the character arcs for each person. I think that gives the story a much nicer balance, even though it meant the first draft came in a little under my original target at 72,700 words.
Interestingly, the part lengths are very uneven, but that was exactly as I planned, although than part four was longer, and part five shorter than I expected originally:
Part 1 (Chris) - 38,000 words
Part 2 (Lisa) - 14,000 words
Part 3 (Alex) - 7,500 words
Part 4 (The Parsons Family) - 10,000 words
Part 5 (Chris, Lisa and Alex) - 3,000 words
So, what's next? Well, I'm taking a break of a few days (to paint the garden fence and stain the decking) while the weather is nice, which should let a few things settle in my mind. I've already attacked quite a few of the things on the list that I was originally saving for the second draft – I got stuck creatively mid-chapter in part four, so did them as a break while waiting for inspiration, which eventually came.
However, there are still several things I need to review. I also want to add a couple of smaller scenes in part one, and a longer scene into part two, which should get the word count up a little.
I've already performed a first pass edit on each chapter to sharpen up the wording, (I review the previous day's writing at the start of each day) but that will definitely be the focus of the second draft too when I carry out a very careful read-through and grammar check.
Once that's done – I'm aggressively targeting the end of April for this – then it'll be time to send it off to my son for his too-expert critique. I'll update the opening chapter preview on the website at that point.
I'm genuinely happy with how it's turned out. I had a crisis of confidence that I could pull it off a couple of times but got there in the end. Now I need to knock it into shape and try to make it interesting enough for someone other than me to read.