Tag Archive: first draft



Mind Games is finished.

Thank. God.

Actually, MG was finished last June (The 29th to be precise and I can be, because I finished the day of my brother’s 22nd birthday) and I’ve already slogged through a second draft. That was painful. But, more on that in a minute.

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and family about what I’m doing next and in interest of informing the greatest number of people possible, I thought that it was time to dust off the old blog.

It’s been forever and a day since I was last on here, hasn’t it?

I may have gone through a writing funk for a good part of last year.  Partly because I was settling into a new job. Partly because I lost said job in March. Partly because, I’ll admit it, I am lazy.

Writing of any kind repulsed me. I wasn’t even interested in writing fan fiction (up to that point, I have always been able to write fan fiction, ideas usually abound). Then about, oh, June I decided that enough was enough.

Did I feel like writing? Nope. But I also knew that if I followed my outline, I was literally pages from the end. So after ignoring the book since January, I sat down and cranked out six chapters over the course of seven days. According to my computer, Draft 1 was finished at 2:06 a.m. on June 30th, 2013 (although I count it as June 29th, my day doesn’t end until I go to sleep).

I felt like an idiot. I’d been sitting with a nearly finished book since November of 2011. All it took  finish a few hours over the course of a week.

I took a few months off to delve into some world-enriching research and then throughout October, November and December of last year I went through the excruciating process of editing my book.

Oh, editing. I think some part of my subconscious went out of its way to make it horrifying. It was a mess. I was a mess. If I could do it again, I would edit a chapter at a time instead of waiting until I’d gone the whole way through. Had time travel been possible there were no fewer than a dozen times that I would have gone back and smacked myself with all 243 double-spaced pages. Mostly, mostly the frustration came  when I ran across one of these:

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Just one of maybe twenty.

I mean, how unhelpful is that? Here’s another one:

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Unhelpful and creepy

I learned a very important lesson after that edit: My memory requires details. I know that I had specific things that I wanted to do in every instance. But my vague notes did little to jog my memory. Next time, I will be specific and detailed. And much more timely with my edits.

So update over, what’s next? Well, I plan to focus on three tasks, which I will probably be working on more or less simultaneously.

  1. The Final Polish– At least, I hope this is the final polish. I’ve decided (for now) that three drafts is my limit for a book. Two to (hopefully) get the novel nailed down and sorted and one final draft to get it ready for step two (see below). Now I’m flexible on this one. I’m hoping that when feedback comes in, there won’t be anything drastic that needs changing (in other words, anything that would require a major rewrite). As a writer, I know I could tweak until kingdom come and still find more to work on. Hence, the self-imposed limit.
  2. Find an Agent– The time has come to start researching agents. Which means, going through guides and websites to compile a list of agents that might be a good fit for my book. If I were trying to publish in a small niche market (i.e. Schnauzer grooming), I might be skip this step. But alas, I am a YA author and that market seems to abound with hopefuls. If you’re at this step or close to it, I recommend the Writer’s Market 2014 Guide to Literary Agents, which seems to offer a larger selection than say the 2014 Writer’s Market or the 2014 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (though it does have a decent selection of literary agents). The other two, however, have more in the way of contests and book publishers, if those are your interests.
  3. Start a New Project– Or in my case return to an old one. I am currently in the process of doing research for a fairytale retelling that was put on the shelf in 2010 so I could focus on MG. Now that MG is finally in the editing and submitting phase, it’s time to think ahead. Everywhere I look writer, after writer, after writer (including the famous ones, like Stephen King) recommends starting the next novel when you reach this phase. So that’s where I’m headed.
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Writing by pedrosimoes7

So…this is it. The pivotal moment that is going define the rest of your writing career. You’ve read lots and lots of books, maybe even a few on how to be a good writer, and there is now an idea in your head. An idea that you want to turn into a novel. There is a notebook on your desk and your favorite pen in your hand. You are ready to write your first draft.

But wait! You can’t just start writing–can you?

You sit there, staring at the blank page as you wait for the perfect words to come to flow from your pen. After all, it has to all be perfect  from the get-go, right?

LOOSEN UP. Don’t be afraid to write dirty (I’m referring to the quality of your writing here, not the content).

That’s what I have to tell myself. Often. Sometimes every few minutes. It is possible to get so caught up in writing something just right, that nothing gets written at all. Remember that whole “week” of writing that I did back in August? Yes, the one where I only wrote 1200 words. Part of that was writer’s block, but most of it was because I got so caught up in how the words should be put down that I wasn’t putting any words down at all. No book is perfect. There are good books, great books, amazing books and books that can fool us into thinking that they are perfect. And you know what: it took a couple of drafts to get them there. Of the two writers that I was able to poll, both said that they revised several times before they were “finished”. If someone who has been writing longer and has also managed to write and sell a trilogy doesn’t expect to get it right the first time, why should I put that kind of pressure on myself.

Multiple revisions are perfectly normal.

You gotta allow yourself to get a little sloppy. Have some fun with that first draft. Don’t worry so much about how you write it. Just write. As soon as I did that I was able to churn out 600 word in ten minutes (I know, I took a whole week off and only actually wrote for ten minutes a day). This is the draft where you get to be corny and repetitive and over dramatic and cliché. Don’t be afraid of that sentence or phrase or scene being too over the top, just write it. Allow yourself to write freely and you may discover genius that you never knew you had. You can clean out the crap later.

In the two stories that I have actually finished there is a lot that needs to be worked on, but there are also pieces of it that blow me away because I find them absolutely brilliant. There is dialogue and foreshadowing that I thought was too (insert word here) at the time, but once I pulled back and looked at whole picture, it actually kind of fit. And I couldn’t believe I had written it. All it needed was some polishing up.

When you’re growing flowers, you need to be ready to do a little weeding.

This is the most important thing that I felt that I took away from my little write-cation. When I find myself stalling because I want to get it down perfectly, I just give myself a slap on the wrist and start writing again. I have no doubt that I can write an amazing book, but first I need something to work with.

 

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