There were days I never thought I would type this blog post but I can finally say, with a deep breath and cheesy grin, the first draft of my middle grade adventure novel is FINISHED!!!

Almost three years, 62,557 words and 225 pages later. I’ve got a first draft and it’s messy as hell, but to be honest I’m relieved that I was actually able to finish it. I came really close to giving up.

I had a lot of false starts. I lost track of the number of times I stopped and scrapped almost everything and restarted. I added new characters, merged two characters and completely deleted others.

I typed the last line of the novel on the last evening of a work trip. And when I saw that cursor blinking on the screen… I tossed my head back and laughed like a maniac. I had done it. Finally.

So I’ve finished a novel…. now what?

For starters, I’m taking a well-deserved break from the manuscript before diving into revisions. How long? Who knows. Two weeks? A month? First order of business is to print it out and buy a bunch of new highlighters. Then I’m going to let it chill like rice pudding in the fridge.

Talking about revisions, I need a revision plan to tackle this 225-page mess. I need a structured approach or I’ll be completely overwhelmed.

The sweet spot for middle grade is around 40,000 to 50,000 words. My manuscript is already 10,000 top heavy so I’ll be going in hard with the editing pen.

I’m still figuring out my approach to revision but I’ll start with the big picture edits. By this, I’m talking about plot holes, pacing and general cohesiveness of the story. My manuscript needs a ton of work. I’m missing a few scenes while others add nothing to the story and will be cut. Once all the plot holes are filled, I’ll revise again, this time with focus on character arcs. Then I’ll have another round of edits focusing on setting and dialogue.

So what else happened in September?

I continued outlining my next project, a middle grade magical realism novel which I plan to tackle in November for NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s where a bunch of crazy writers from all over the world, attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. A new writing project also just happens to be the perfect distraction before tacking edits. We’ll see how long I can hold out.

I’m still on track with my 365 writing challenge where I’m writing everyday. Gotta admit I’m loving it.

Books read in September

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (YA)

Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova (YA)

Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Balwin (MG)

The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maas (Non-fiction)

Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment and Growing Up Female in America by Amy Reed (Non-fiction)

What does your revision process look like?

Share your tips in the comments!