I think I just finished the first draft of my novel.
There are scenes missing and a lot of cleaning up to do, but I think I’m there. The first draft is as complete as it’s going to be.
I feel remarkably calm. I think it’s because I’m aware of how much work I have to do now.
I’m going to do a ‘scene grid’ or, as I like to think of it, a ‘motif grid’, as recommended by Stuart Horwitz. There are several things that came up during my last few scenes that I realize are key to the story and the character, and I want to make sure I’m getting them in early and often.
I’m going to try not to get overwhelmed in the revision process. Then, hopefully I’ll have a second draft, ready for polishing when I go to UnCon in November.
I do enjoy my StoryADay stuff and the non-fiction writing I do, but nothing quite compares to the way I feel after I’ve written a piece of fiction. It’s lovely.
Today, I typed up and tweaked the last of the writing I did on the plane last month.
I had used Larry Brook’s Scene Checklist from Story Engineering to help me figure out what I wanted the scene to achieve BEFORE I wrote it, which made it really easy to revise. I noticed that I’d forgotten which character was supposed to be having which emotion, so I tweaked that as I typed it in. Made it stronger. Yay.
From here on in, it’s all new material until I get to the actual end of the draft. Because I don’t know exactly what happens next I’m going back to the Scene Checklist from Larry Brooks to figure out what’s IMPORTANT in the next sequence of scenes.
Using this checklist helps me avoid wandering around aimlessly in a scene.
It’s relatively easy to write ‘stuff happening’.
It’s harder to write good, meaningful scenes unless I know in advance what I’m trying to achieve: who are the key players; what’s the key piece of information I want the reader to learn (and have I set that up properly in earlier scenes or will I have to go back and do that?); what emotions do I want the reader to experience when they’re reading it?
Even if you resist outlining, this checklist is a really helpful way to get into the next scene you want to write. It manages to whet my appetite for writing the scene, instead of taking all the joy and anticipation out of it (as I always fear outlining will do).
The plan now is to spend a while, later today, outlining the next scene and thinking hard about what I need to achieve in the first draft of the resolution
It’s important to remember that this is the first draft of the end of the book.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be written.
Today’s writing progress: I found a fragment of Holeheads that I had handwritten back in June and typed it up today. (Z’s on a boat!)
I remember that, when I wrote it, it felt like a slog. It wasn’t advancing the plot fast enough. It felt like marking time. I only wrote about 600 words in that session then gave up, defeated by the weight of the amount of story I had to tell in the section after this one (which is kind of a transition)
But when I came back to it today, it became the framework for a bunch of character-development moments as well as simply filling a ‘how they got from there to here’ hole.
Sometimes you have to slog through the unexciting parts to make something you can revise later.
Just keep putting words down and coming back and revising them. I guess that’s how this works?
More of that Writing Amidst Life stuff today.
Two hour delay; breakfast with husband; the lure of fine writing implements…
The kids had a half day yesterday because of The Blizzard That Never Was, and I not only negotiated some writing time with the Husband, but used it productively to add 1400 words to a scene in the novel.
Today I had more time at my disposal and managed to sit and stare at the scene for quite a lot of it. I figured out my problem, though, which is something: I need to know what the heroine’s story goals at this point in the story. It’s a waste of my time to just add more words to the scene if they don’t serve the overall story. So I did some background writing to figure out what she needs to figure out at this point. That sounds very clever and it would have been, had I not succeeded in completely confusing myself. Time to go back to my notes, It think.
But this is the absolute worst time of the day for met to try to make decisions, so I’m going to send a few emails and try to get back to this later. Or tomorrow. But at least knowing what the problem is, now.
- Finish draft of the novel (so I can revise it for the critique group) – Getting there. Have added, since last week, about 4000 words in three different scenes, building towards the climax. Huzzah!
- Post weekly Write On Wednesday prompts to StoryADay – No progress, but I have three weeks’ worth in the bank
- Start prepping for April’s build-up to StoryADay – Wrote a Thursday Feature Article about Turning Up At The Page
- Non-fiction book proposal – No progress
- Reading – Um…
- Regular column for other site – Really very little progress unless you count what I do in the next 30 minutes…
- Planning – Captured a list of Things I Want To Do This Year. It’s quite a lot, and now it’s all organized and in a Google Document that I can update from year to year. Fun!