First draft completed – now what?

I completed my first draft – so now what?

After focusing all my energy on getting that first draft written,
I should be celebrating, right?
Sure – maybe – but only for a minute.  The reality is that the real work is just beginning.

Next steps – a quick read-through, taking lots and lots of detailed notes. What’s not working? How’s the pacing?
Is the timing off? Where am I missing detail?
In other words – is this a story or just a bunch of gobbledygook?!?!?


Notes only – NO EDITS.

And then – set it aside – let it sit.
Which seems a teensy bit anticlimactic, right?
I mean – I’ve been writing like crazy and have this amazing momentum going – and now I’m supposed to just stop?

Yep. Let. It. Sit.

Which brings me back to my original question. What now?

Surprisingly, there is lots and lots to do. While the manuscript may be taking a break, I am not.

Research and fine tuning:

In order to keep the flow of writing going, questions that arise while writing are noted and set aside. Now it’s time to find all the answers. Would the local police department do that? Who has jurisdiction anyway? What time should the sun set? How long does it take someone to bleed out from a cut to the head? What does it take to go from sitting to standing if your feet and hands are bound? Is it physically possible to hop to safety?

working on the deck

And how about those characters? How well do I know them? Why do they do what they do and say what they say? Does their motivation make sense? Are they all individuals? What are their mannerisms, figures of speech? How would they handle a confrontation – get angry? run away?


Lots and lots of reading. Tough duty, I know…
I’d like to say I’m making a dent in my to-be-read pile, except that I just keep adding more and more books.
I was beyond happy to stumble upon this book, though, which pretty much takes place in my back yard. Vermont is a popular setting – beautiful, wild, and unique in so many ways. But more often than not, I find that authors don’t quite get it right – making me wonder whether they’ve ever actually been here. This author nails it, and I’m loving the story. Win-win. (Yeah… I might be taking notes…)

book cover on ipad by Paula Munier

It’s time to start plotting Book #2

Which feels a little bit like getting ahead of myself. I mean, I haven’t published the first one, so what the heck? But yes, now is a great time to get started on the next-in-series. And interestingly, knowing what’s coming up next will help me revise that pesky manuscript that’s just lying around. I am having fun cooking up new mayhem for my beloved characters.

Instagram, and Facebook, and websites – oh my!

More on that in another post…

Conferences, classes, and critique groups

Which leaves me wonderting – why did I ever think that writing a book meant sitting down and writing – you know – a book? Yeah, about that…
Which all leads me to…

Finding time for downtime

Sometimes a break should just be a break – you know? – Getting messy with some art journaling…

art journaling

– and getting outdoors!

early morning on Lowell Lake

And – can you believe August is coming to an end – already!?!?!?!

I hope your summer has been going well. Are you still hanging onto summer like I am, or ready to jump into fall?



  1. Sarah | 24th Aug 20

    I am desperately ready for fall. I saw a little red maple leaf on the bike path on Saturday morning and the joy I felt was deep within me.
    Such a lot of research and detail work. Perfect things to do going into the fall and winter months. But, yes, get outside while you can and enjoy every moment of this beautiful nature.

    • Karen | 24th Aug 20

      I don’t know what it is. Fall was always my favorite season, but I seem to be hanging onto summer. Seriously doesn’t make sense – this year of all years! (?)

  2. Debbie | 24th Aug 20

    oh your back, and you are writing/have written a book, what planet am i on??

    i am sooooo ready for fall. truth be told, i am ready for 2021. 2020 has been a really difficult year, and i just want it to be over, now!! i have enjoyed the quiet of home, the pool has been so fun but everything else, well everything else has been hard. so put up the christmas tree, take it down…sleep through the ball drop and bring on 2021. i’m ready!!

    • Karen | 24th Aug 20

      Debbie – so good to hear from you! I totally get it – we need to get past 2020 somehow!!!

  3. Barb | 24th Aug 20

    Hi Karen, Thanks for the book recommendation – I got the sample on Kindle. I think letting your draft “stew” for awhile is a great idea. I like your diligence! Our summer here in the mountains of CO is dwindling fast. I know you’ll soon be in leaf peeper season. Enjoy the weather before the snow falls again. That’s what I’m doing.

    • Karen | 24th Aug 20

      Barb – I think you’ll like the book. It literally takes place right here – many mentions of Stratton and a town that I think is a fictional version of Manchester.

  4. Lynne | 27th Aug 20

    Can I reach out and touch you . . .
    Your first manuscript . . . wow . . . a book . . . wow!
    Exciting . . .
    (Thanks for the book recommendation too!)

    I am so ready to be talking about something other than
    Covid, elections, zoom, masks, social distancing, reconstructing schools, classes, learning . . .
    to name a few . . .

  5. beatrice p boyd | 30th Aug 20

    What wonderful news to read, Karen, that you have finished the first draft of your book and thanks for sharing the news! I am an avid reader and enjoy writing, but the thought of trying to complete a manuscript is beyond me, at least now. I have bookmarked the book you mentioned as our local library has a copy (yeah) but in the middle of finished a couple others (you know how that goes). I am so ready for fall now, spring and summer are gone and the fall colors are sure to bring joy and maybe less leaf peppers in the area too (one can hope). Yes, down time is a wonderful idea!

  6. Carola Bartz | 5th Sep 20

    Writing a book is a ton of work and you prove it.. I do think that letting things sit for a while is a good decision – I often do that when I design my lessons for my German classes. I have tons of ideas, but then I suddenly get stuck, so I let it sit and after a short while things sort out almost by themselves. I don’t really know what it is, but it always works.
    I love fall, it’s my favorite season, and I look forward to it very much. Here fall doesn’t really arrive before October; September can be the hottest month of th year and right now we’re having another heat wave with triple digit temperatures. Add to that the fires and the smoke from them you can understand that it is no exactly fun. And still – I love it here. Is that weird?

I am always happy to hear from you!