Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Little Break Helps

I know that I love my job when I kind of want a long holiday weekend to be over so I can just get back to writing already. I started my holiday weekend Friday at lunch and worked very little on Friday morning, if you must know the truth. I was feeling kind of stuck and pushed myself through rewriting a couple of scenes, but didn’t feel like I accomplished much.

So on Tuesday, I was super excited to get back to the book. But I felt like I’d been a little slow last week and the story had started to get heavy in my mind. I spent so much time on that awful middle part of the story, I felt drained. I made progress in that section, but I was unsure of what was ahead of me when I opened the document again.

Apparently I was so frightened, I never opened the document up yesterday. Not even once. I read a lot though, so that was nice. So this morning, full of guilt and determination, I opened the document up as soon as I got up. And I started rewriting.

And things are just not that bad. The ending is pretty solid, at least that’s what I think right now. Getting through the end of the book actually feels possible. So I’m trading in my guilt and saying I really needed a break from the story to recharge my writing batteries and see things with a fresh perspective.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chopping Block

I have deleted a lot of stuff from the second draft. I have now gotten over the need to delete just about everything. I think the plot is in the right order. I need to add new scenes and still flesh things out, but the sequence of events is finally right. But let’s take a look at what I’m left with now, shall we?

First draft was 314 pages, 88,260 words long. Second draft, as it stands today, is 240 pages and 67,344 words long. This might look like I cut 74 pages. But really I’ve saved 43 of them in a lovely document titled “Extras.” This is the stuff that doesn’t fit right now, might not work, but I might be able to salvage later. Who knows, those pages might end up in the trash eventually, but I like that they are ready for me to plunk them back in if I can figure out where they best help the story.

Looking at chapters as they were numbered in the first draft, the order is sort of like this now: 1, 2, 14, 5, New, 7, 3, 17, 4, 6-10, 20-21, 11, 14, 12, 15, 22, 15-16, 24, 17-18, 19, 18, 23-33.

Do you see how those last ten chapters get to stay in their nice tidy order? Do you see how I had to wiggle the opening chapters around a bit to make the reader (aka agent) stick around long enough to get to those final chapters? Because the last thing you want to do is send an agent a book where you’re thinking, the first 200 pages are rather odd, but that last 100 is just perfect!

I have things in order. At least, enough of an order to move on. Now I have the time to add in more scenes, heighten the conflict, and deepen the characters. The fun just does not stop!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moving Parts

As I started to dig into the second (sort of) draft, I realized pretty early on that I’d buried a lot of good conflict way down in the second half of the book. So I started moving things up and down and out and I got my first fifty pages in solid enough shape to move on.

Then I started working on next fifty pages. I kept moving scenes around and deleting stuff there, too. Now I’m getting into pages 100-150 and I’m still trying to move things around some more. But do you know what? Those chapters are kind of in an okay order. Yes, there’s still plenty of stuff to delete and expand on. The writing is still lanky, awkward, sluggish first draft writing. But, the plot, the story itself, is not so bad there.

I was nervous to rewrite a draft I’d received no feedback on. Would I really be able to find the problems on my own? But once I discovered I needed to better solidify the main conflict, I was relieved that I identified a problem and had a solution to fix it. But then I started to apply this solution to the entire book.

The rest of the book doesn’t need this particular fix. The middle has its own problems. One of them, I think, is keeping track of a few different subplots. So maybe I should focus on fixing that area instead of other problems that aren’t really there.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Second Draft, Sort Of

The first few chapters are safely in the hands of trusted critique partners. So exciting! It took me about a week longer than I expected to get things in shape, but I wasn’t off my goal by far.

By the way, when you change the point of view in a story, do you know how many times you need to look at a chapter before you’ll be able to find every instance of the old POV? Me neither! Third person is still popping up everywhere I look.

I was reading a post by Anna David on Editor Unleashed the other day where she says she doesn’t know how to count her drafts. Being a very goal-oriented, make a list and cross things off it kind of person, I’m very motivated by knowing what draft I’m in. But that post made me reconsider this.

The first draft was clear, I wrote it front to back, no stopping. The second draft has been a much more iterative process. At first, I’ve focused heavily on the first fifty or so pages. Then I focused on the second fifty pages a ton. Then I went back to the first fifty pages to make sure they were set up properly so the stuff in the second fifty made sense. Should I be counting these as different drafts? Does it matter? No, not really.

I’m going to stick with calling it a second draft for now, because I know I’m further along than the first, and nowhere near the final polishing draft. I’m moving forward, and that’s really all that matters.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Funny Videos About Writing

I recently discovered Fiction Matters, via Jane Friedman’s blog There Are No Rules where she linked to some of their tweets. Anyway, they are really bringing home the awesome, like linking to these two funny videos about writing.

Here's one from Dennis Cass, where he talks about his marketing attempts.

And then Jeff Somers gives us a glimpse into a day in the life of a writer.