The final stretch of the first draft is a tricky one. For one, you’re so excited that you’ve managed to get this far, in my case I’m currently on 85,000 words of what should end up to be roughly a 110,000-word manuscript. Already I know that elements in this draft that are slowing the pace of the story down need to come out but we’ve come too far to go back now! I started my latest novel nearly 12 months ago today. It’s the longest I’ve spent on a first draft since I began writing books for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the lessons that I’ve learned over the years from my feedback from both publishers, agents, Amazon and Goodreads reviews not to mention how my approach to storytelling has changed. Anyone who’s ever attempted to get a traditional book deal, myself included, will know how tough it is but the urge to keep putting pen to paper is a drive that any writer will know is just too irresistible to be dissuaded by the mountains of rejection letters and emails you get along the journey. It’s important at this stage, certainly for me, not to lose the run of one’s self. The last act in any story needs as much time, patience and care, if not more so than any other part of the novel. For me, this is my favourite part of writing a book. The big finish. I’ve spent a lot of time world building with this particular science fiction endeavour, getting my characters the way I want them, dropping them into the meat grinder and watching how each of them unfolds according to their respective personalities. I know, that even at this stage the temptation to go back, play with their situations, character traits, dialogue, flashes of little pieces of inspiration is all too enticing but I also know that come the second draft the life of this manuscript is really going to take on a spirit of its own. Reading back the absolute carnage that will manifest as the first draft is always fun. Partly because you realize how much, again certainly in my case, REAL work there is to be done and partly because you can feel a real sense of pride at the accomplishment of actually doing what you set out to do. A few years back, I did an MA in Screenwriting and one of the most interesting things I learned was to think about the first draft of anything like a marshmallow suspended in mid-air by a string attached to the ground. A physical impossibility right? With only the thin foundation of a piece of string, it has no other option but to collapse on the floor. That’s your first draft. The second draft is for tearing it all down and rebuilding it with stronger foundations that, hopefully, aren’t made of string.