A messy first draft
Starting the revision process in earnest. I have my manuscript (it sounds so official that way!), index cards, sticky notes, and pens. I’ve started by marking the beginning and end of each scene (an idea I had that was then reinforced by something I read from Martha Alderson). Next, completely from an idea from Martha Alderson, I’m going to give each scene a title and write each one on its own index card. After that, I’ll figure out my next best steps.
Last night I met with my writing group. They had really great ideas for resources to help me make my traps in the story scarier and more dangerous. Now as I’m going through the story I’ll be figuring out where I can use some of my new ideas. I think it’s progress. I think I have to remember to focus on the tasks at hand and wait until I’m there to start fretting about the next things.
Time for another ROW80 check-in already! This week has been a little slow for writing work because I had a lot of other things going on, but I’ve done some character journals and really feel like I finally know these people in my story. I’m trying not to be dismayed at how much I’m going to need to change to make them show up on the page now. At least I have solid characters to do that work with, right?
I’ve been reading the plotting book, too. One of the things I have always liked about Holly Lisle’s writing about writing is how it makes me feel like I can do this thing. She doesn’t act like if you follow certain steps things will be easy. She acknowledges that there will be plenty of hard parts, but she still makes it all sound so doable. I love that!
This week I’m going to finish at least reading through the rest of the character course. I want to see if anything else pops up for me from reading it. Right now I feel like I know enough about my characters to do a better job of telling their story. So I’m going to get my index cards and sticky notes ready, print out “Haunt” as it stands right now, and get ready for some revisions. Feeling almost ready for that now.
I’m still working through the Holly Lisle character book/class. I’ve started reading the plotting class, too. I am really liking the new ideas that are springing up!
I am having to remind myself that slow is fine and I don’t need to know all the changes and additions I need for my revisions right now. And I don’t have to do it all this week. My impatience is trying to make me feel like I’m not doing enough, but I am.
I’m getting a better feel for my characters and my story world. I’m getting interested in it again. And I’m right on schedule to start the actual revisions the weekend of the 20th. It’s a little sooner than the six weeks I’ve seen recommended, but I’ve also seen just one month recommended, and this will be just over a month. I feel like I’ll have enough distance from the story at that point.
We’re back to writing at ROW80. Right now, I’m not actually writing a lot, at least not story writing. I’m doing character building work right now, mostly from Holly Lisle’s character clinic, but also from a few other sources I’ve gathered over my years of obessively collecting articles and books on writing.
I’m about a third of the way through the book/class, and I’m really liking the work I’ve been doing. I like the questions she uses and the methods, but the best part has been that as I’m reading it’s been sparking ideas for my characters. I realized my characters are younger than I thought, and I know what’s important to them and why, and I know enough about their personalities to know where they’ll clash. And all of this has sparked ideas for additions and changes I want to make when I dive into my rewrites.
I’ve decided that I’m going to at least read Holly Lisle’s plot clinic before I start those rewrites. I’m getting so much out of the character work that I feel like the plot information might spark even more good ideas for the story.
I was kind of worried in December that my story was too shallow and really didn’t have anything to grab hold of and work with, but that’s starting to change. Looking forward to more ideas that will help me shape it into something readable.
It’s time for 2018 Round 1 of ROW80–it starts tomorrow. That means it’s time for a goals post. Which is almost the same as goal post, which is very sportsy and makes me want to cheer. So, GOALS!
Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what my goals are because I don’t know how long some of them are going to take. This round will take us into March. I know by then I’ll be working on revisions, but I don’t know exactly when I’ll be starting on that. I just know that it will be sometime this round, and that’s probably good enough, at least for the moment.
My first goal is to work through Holly Lisle’s Create a Character Clinic. I’ve been doing a little bit of character work during the break, but I want to get a clearer picture of my people and really get to know them so I can get their personalities to come out better in the story. I’m going to work on this 4 or 5 days a week, at least 15 minutes or 300 words worth of work (depending on what the tasks are).
After I’ve worked through the characters clinic, I’m going to start revisions. I don’t know what steps I’m going to use for this yet. I have some articles to read through with tips on how to revise, so hopefully I’ll have a plan by the time I get there.
Those are my writing goals right now. I am reminding myself that I don’t need more. This is enough. This will move me forward, and that’s what I’m aiming for. So this is where I start.
Today I finished the read-through and note taking of “Haunt,” just in time for the final 2017 check-in for ROW80.
I’m planning to not do much of anything before the next round. Mostly some reading and playing with character sheets. It’s the end of the year, and I like to spend this time dreaming and writing and making lists, and I plan to do just that.
I am reining myself in and not doing plans or outlining or anything for the next 11 days. I can already tell this is going to be hard. I am really worried about losing my momentum, because that happens to me a lot. But I have a specific plan of what steps are coming next, and I know when I’m going to start them, so this time really is different. I will remind myself of that often and fill my time with other pursuits, and I am going to pick this story back up and do the next steps without months in between!
Meanwhile, while I let the story stew, I’m going to plan my 2018 year-long embroidery project. More about that later, though. More about all the plans after some time to pause.
I love this time of year. I love the planning bug that hits me every time the calendar is about to change. I love the possibilities of a brand new calendar. This time, though, my writing work is coinciding with the change of years, and it feels good. New year, new part of the work to do. I’m not just continuing writing an in-progress story. I’m starting a whole new part of the writing process.
Meanwhile, I’m still working on the “Haunt” read-through, which feels like a wrap-up of the first draft more than an actual part of the revision process for some reason. I’m about 3/4 of the way finished with it. It’s kind of fitting that I’m hitting the end of this part of my plans just in time for the end of this round of ROW80. I just hope I’m going to be ready for something new when the next round starts.
To help with that, here are more plans for the ROW80 break:
- Study revision techniques
- Character building (my three characters are too similar)
- Make a list in one place of next steps
- Pick a date for starting revisions
- Possibly do a loose narrative-style outline of the story as it stands to help find the holes and weak spots
Okay, now I feel a little more ready to tackle whatever’s coming next in this writing life.
I’m still working on reading through my story and making notes on where more info is needed. I’m trying to get through it quickly so it doesn’t fade too much. I’m hoping doing it fast will help me remember which sections I thought were going to need more info or added scenes while I was writing.
Meanwhile, I’ve also been thinking about how to proceed after this read-through. I plan to have that done by the end of December 31, and then the story is going to need some time to rest before I start revisions. I’m planning to let it rest through January.
While it’s resting (okay, I’ve already started this), I’m going to read up on good ways of revising a novel. Since this is the first time I’ve actually gotten to the end of a long work, this is going to be my first try at revising one. I’m thinking the first pass will be to go through and add in the scenes and info from the notes I’m making right now. That should give me a more complete first draft to work with. After that part, though, I’m not sure how to proceed. So, research time!
I’m also trying to figure out how to do revisions and write at the same time. Are you really supposed to stop writing while you’re revising something? That doesn’t feel right to me.
I’d love to hear about any methods (books, workshops, anything) that other writers use for their revisions. And I’d really love to hear how you balance writing and revising.
I hope everyone’s having a great writing week!
Stage two. STAGE TWO! Can you believe it? I wrote a book. A whole book, all the way to the conclusion!
I think I’m more excited now than I was last week. It’s finally really sinking in, and my excitement has grown. This thing is finished! It is complete enough to be doing revisions. I had actually given up on getting here. I have had so many attempts that I never finished. I kind of thought that was my thing–think of a story, do some planning, write some of it, move on to the next. But now I have actually completed a novel (okay, novella for now).
I gave myself a couple of days off, and now I am following my plan and reading at least four pages a day and making notes. I’m trying to not think about how I will fix the things I’m making notes on. It’s working some of the time.
I was a little worried that I would have a hard time keeping on the four-page schedule, but so far I’m finding it pretty easy. I even did six pages yesterday. I think I really will be finished with this part by the end of the year. And I’m going to wait until this part is finished before I plan for what comes next. Small steps, small steps!
I’ve started this post numerous times in my head. I have so much to say! It’s all still tumbling around excitedly inside my brain. This might call for a list!
- I won NaNoWriMo with 52,513 (52,527 in Google Docs) words.
- I finished the story! This one is huge. Immensely, amazingly huge! I have never done this before. Not just during NaNo, either. I have only ever finished short stories before. Every long work I’ve started up until now remains unfinished. But not this one. This one has an ending!
- I’m feeling niggling worries about whether or not I know how to do the next steps to add scenes, clean things up, do revisions. It’s all going to be my first try for my own work. I’ve helped other people do theirs, but I’ve never done this on my own. It feels completely different and like brand new territory. I have to remember that finishing a novel felt that way, and I did it by just figuring out and doing the next thing without knowing what I would do after that. I have to let go of wanting to know how every part of it will look before I get there (oh so hard for me!).
- I have a plan for what I’m doing next. During December I’m going to be reading through about 4 pages a day and making notes about things that need to have more info or different info, marking places where I need another scene, marking places where a scene needs to be removed or replaced. My plan is to be ready to do the writing and clean-up starting in January. I’m trying not to try to figure out how long that might take right now (oh my control issues!).