So I got to chapter twenty-nine out of thirty-five in Stolentime and decided to quit the draft. Just like that. Not quit, as in I’m through with the story forever. But quit, as in I’m ready to start doing some revision outlines.
I did this with When Stars Die. I had about seven chapters left to write in the draft and just decided to stop to get revising. But it worked. I got to revisions and was able to complete the entire thing. I had to concentrate more on the last chapters during a third read through, but, nonetheless, I got the book complete.
I can’t tell you why I do this. I can only guess. I assume I do this because I hate drafting. I get to a certain point where I’m tired of drafting and decide it’s time to get to the revisions, even though I have those final chapters roughly outlined. This seems counterproductive because how am I supposed to work on the ending if I don’t have it? Well, I do a detailed outline of it, and it does take me longer to write, but I’m more fired up about it because I have my mind trained to realize what I’m doing is revising since I love revising–even if it’s technically not.
I want to be fired up when I write, not disengaged and apathetic. So I do whatever I can to fire me up. If I have to quit a draft 7/10ths of the way through to do it, so be it.
But it works for me. I get it done.
Do you have any strange writing quirks, like writing out of order, starting a later scene first, things of that nature?
During work today I decided to do some revising of Sister Evelyn because, hey, it’s work and work is often slow during the weekday mornings. I went through with my fancy sharpie and pretty much jotted down notes in the margins. I looked at my beginning and thought of how I could better write it and also if I needed to start sooner or later. However, my biggest revision for the piece involved wanting to suspend disbelief. You see, Sister Evelyn does something that needs to be able to suspend the reader’s disbelief. I had to build that from the very beginning so her actions were more believable. At the same time, I also had to edit this piece knowing it was only part one–so, basically, I had to treat it as the chapter one of a basic novelette instead of a short story. But since this is an installation piece, I’m going to edit as I go along and write each piece as I go along.
In any case, back to the topic of revisions. Revisions are my favorite part of the writing process. You have your crappy draft, which, assuming you don’t edit as your write, reeks of crappiness galore but still has hidden gems, that potential that gives we writers a reason to revise. Then you take that crappy draft, your favorite pen, and start marking that thing up. If you’re like me, you’ll mark it up, and any majors notes that need to be added, I’ll do in a notebook or on a separate piece of paper. In Sister Evelyn’s case, I needed no extra pieces of paper. Then once all that is done, you’ll get to either re-writing the whole thing, or only re-writing the parts you marked up. I often re-write the whole thing because I don’t merely like to think outside of the box: I like to break that box.
Revisions are where I really fall in love with the story.
Now we all have our own ways of revising. I heartily advise to use an outline simply because it can help you figure out the purpose of each scene, spot potential plot holes, and keep everything in order, including characters and sub-plots and so on and so forth. Revisions need to be a time of really stepping outside of that box you’ve put yourself in when drafting. Don’t merely edit what’s already there. You need to edit what isn’t there. Does your chapter one need to be a chapter two? Does this scene need to start earlier or later? Does this character even have a purpose? Is there a better way to go about telling this story? These are some really crucial questions that need to be asked upon revisions.
I know when I was younger I refused to revise because I would often ask myself, ‘What’s the purpose of drafting if I just have to re-write the whole thing anyway?’ So for a bit I never re-wrote any of my drafts. Then I got to a point where I realized the draft is like a detailed outline. Even if I have to re-write it, I already have a basic structure there. All I’m doing is improving upon it, even if the story ends up being completely different.
When Stars Die’s premise has stayed the same since its inception, but how it got to the ending has changed dramatically over the years. In my current draft, Amelia is enduring some intense trials to be professed as a nun. In previous drafts, she was first a novitiate going about her daily life, then in my last draft, she was actually being professed as a nun. I changed the whole thing because I realized it would be much more exciting for readers to read about Amelia enduring torturous trials and also because it gave her an immediate goal to strive for in the first chapter–to become a nun for her little brother. The first chapter does need to basically answer the question, “What is your MC’s goal?”
So revising is really all about breaking the box. Don’t just seek out what’s there. Seek out what isn’t there.
Oh, also, I want to start vlogging, so give me some vlogging ideas!
So I am very sick as I am writing this. Out of nowhere a cold decided to hit me in the face at work, and now I have chills, body aches (which fibro intensifies), a sore throat, and an aching head. But I’m determined to get this post out. I have no idea when I’ll slow down on the blogging. Probably once I run out of ideas or something. Or once I really hunker down with When Stars Die revisions.
In any case, I hate writing first drafts. Because I hate them, I just make the first draft a glorified detailed outline, writing whatever spews forth from my mind. I’ll put major revision notes in the margins, but I’ll just get the skeleton of the story down and reserve the second draft for putting some meat and skin on that skeleton.
Back in my younger years, I would have to do lots and lots of drafts because I was never satisfied with my writing, and for good reason: My gut was trying to tell me I just wasn’t mature enough, but I wanted to plow through to prove you don’t need age to have stellar writing. Well, generally you do. Even teens who become published have immature aspects in their novels, but they’re marketable enough that it doesn’t seem to matter.
When Stars Die took five drafts to get it to this point because I did start it as a fifteen-year-old. I suppose that isn’t a whole lot compared to how many it could have been, but I did shelve it for several years before finally deciding to bring it back out. I am on the seventh read-through of When Stars Die (the last two were proofreading, so no re-writes). Surprisingly I’m not tired of it yet.
When Stars Die is my first, truly complete novel (before AEC Stellar starts hacking it apart). My hope is that with Stolentime, I can revise on the second draft, have someone read it, and have the third draft be strong enough to send out and hopefully get contracted by AEC Stellar. Or another company is fine too. Whatever happens, right?
Truth is, now that I am more mature with my writing, I have no idea how many drafts Stolentime will have to go through. Of course I can improve with my writing; we can always improve with everything. But I’m hoping for three. Seriously. Fingers crossed.