5 Things I Learned After Writing My First Manuscript, by Karin Biggs
It took me a little over a year to write my first draft of The King’s 100, and after my first roundtable discussion with my critique partners, I rewrote the whole dang thing. Is this something that all writers should do? Heck, no! But since it was my first crack at writing a full-length novel, there were plenty of changes that needed to be made and, well...it just didn’t feel like me. So, here are some things I learned after writing The King’s 100 and a couple of pieces of advice for new writers:
1. Define clear stakes.
This was the biggest consensus among my CP’s during that first roundtable: “I just didn’t get the stakes.” I have seen this as a challenge for even experienced writers. It’s easy to jump into your plot and character development and forget to define the stakes clearly to your audience. In the first draft of the King’s 100, there was only one kingdom, and it was divided by a class system. My MC still had her secret identity, but it just didn’t feel like she was ever in enough danger for the reader to care whether or not she accomplished her goal. So for the second draft, I divided one kingdom into two feuding kingdoms with contrasting values and the threat of death for entrance.
2. Don’t lose sight of why you decided to write your book in the first place.
My goal for writing The King’s 100 was to create a romantic story in a fun, glittery setting with a performance focus. Romance is the #1 reason why I read, so when I received the feedback from my CP’s that there wasn’t enough romance in my first draft, I was flabbergasted. Not enough romance?! After reviewing my manuscript (for the one billionth time) I realized I had saved too many of those yummy, romantic scenes for the theoretical sequel. My manuscript did not read at all as a love story, but rather as a long, complicated emotional story with a small romantic plot in the background. Bringing the romantic plot to the foreground and framing the conflict of the feuding kingdoms around my two MCs made for a much better read and felt more like me. Which brings me to…
3. If you aren’t enjoying your own writing, your readers sure as heck aren’t going to enjoy it either.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but there were a few sections of the first draft that I dreaded editing every time. They were too long, too emotional and too boring. So, if you’re not jiving with your plot, have a meeting with yourself and cut out those boring sections.
4. Use your favorite books to help guide you in your plotting.
What is your favorite book of all time? And why is that your favorite book of all
time? One of my absolute favorite YA books is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. After feeling the slums of my first draft, I dissected Caraval to figure exactly why I stayed up till 3 am reading it the first time I checked it out from the library. And what I discovered is it had the perfect blend of romance, mystery and familial conflict. My first draft had ZERO mystery, so adding that element into my second draft was a huge improvement. I suddenly found myself immersed in my own plot and felt the same curiosity as my MC.
5. It’s okay to not write every day.
If you have been reading all the writing books and blogs, then you’ve probably
come across the famous Stephen King quote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” While there is merit in this statement, I believe real life prevents most of us from writing religiously every day. That doesn’t mean you can’t be productive while not writing. One of my most helpful tools for completing my second draft was t-i-m-e. Time was my best friend in so many situations where I just didn’t know what direction to take and forcing it wasn’t helping. There’s actually some science I once heard behind this—something about how your brain needs extra time to catch up to your subconscious mind, where the answers to your tough questions tend to get stored. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not writing every day. Maybe your subconscious mind will help you out and give you that ah-ha moment one day while you’re at the grocery store!
If you are a writer hoping to get published one day, keep going! Completing a novel is a process that takes SO much time, so don’t rush yourself, relax, and don’t lose sight of why you started your novel in the first place. You got this!
Meet The Author
Karin earned her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Purdue University and served as an event planner for two Big 10 universities and various non-profits for over eight years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. She enjoys chocolate-covered peanuts, uninterrupted sleep, and singing with other people. Her debut novel The King’s 100 is now available on Amazon. Karin lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, cat, and dog.
Best Piece of Writing Advice:
Dissect your favorite book and understand why you love it —then incorporate those reasons into your own writing.
When do you find time to write:
Whenever time allows! It has been harder in quarantine with a four-year-old daughter to watch 24/7.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Yes, I always create a manuscript-specific playlist!