Or rather, draft 0.5 of the novel that doesn’t even have a proper provisional title. My first draft is always more of a glorified outline that points out everything problematic about my initial conception of the project.
It’s clocked in at about 72,000 words (for the uninitiated: 75,000 words is a SHORT novel, too short for the fantasy genre unless it’s YA), which has me estimating the fleshed-out Real Draft 1 at around 100,000 words (the short end of average, for fantasy that isn’t Game of Thrones-style epic). About 60-65,000 of those words were written in Mongolia, with an additional 20,000ish words of outline when I reworked the plot in December.
– I can write in Mongolia! Keeping to a regular schedule has been really, really difficult for me here. I’ve been averaging slightly under 2,000 words a week here, where in the States — for the last three years! — I’d kept to a relatively steady 1,000 words a day. It’s good to see the words building up, however slowly.
– I have a solid outline to work from. The main characters are more or less fleshed out, even if their arcs kind of wander off into the sky somewhere around the draft’s halfway point; I know the major sticky points in worldbuilding and plot logistics.
– For the first time ever, I’ve *finished* something novel-length, and it’s (more or less) shaped like a novel!
That said, I’m not really satisfied. I never am, not by a first draft. I get to the end and I look back at all the things that don’t work with equal parts irritation and eagerness to dig back in. Coming as it did in 500-word fits and spurts, the completion of this draft is even less exciting than usual — I never really built up a consistent momentum to keep me enthusiastic about the story. Still, I’m pleased with the draft insofar as it goes, and I’m looking forward to the first rewrite.
While I’ve got a pretty good idea of what needs fixing, I’m going to set the first draft aside for a month or so, so that I can look over it with fresh eyes before coming up with my next plan of attack. I’ll probably do some worldbuilding, outlining, and character work when I do come back to it, rather than jumping headfirst into the next draft.
In the meantime, I’m going to be working on a strange secondary project I set up shortly before coming to Mongolia. I’m expecting it to be novella-ish length and I don’t quite know what it’s about, aside from sentient houses. I can (hopefully) finish that first draft within two or three months, and then return to the Malice project.