Why are they afraid? Because this is only the first draft. (I corrected a typo which said “fist draft” just now, btw, but I kind of regret doing it.)
It feels pretty good to be here, if you folks were wondering. I’m never completely sure when I start typing for a new project that I’ll actually find my way to its end. What if I write myself into a corner and can’t figure out how to fix it? What if I realize halfway through that the whole idea is just plain stupid? What if I finish and nobody likes it?
All that is nonsense, though. The main thing to do is to just keep writing. If there’s something that needs research? Make a note. Plot inconsistency? Make a note. Totally stuck? Make a note. And move on.
First drafts can be awfully ugly. In this case I’m pretty happy with the way various bits came together. The end made me laugh when my fingers finally showed me what it was going to be–up till then I’d only been vaguely aware that a chapter needed to be written to deal with a few loose ends, and it was pretty neat how it tied the book together end-to-end. Or beginning to end, I guess. The other would be weird.
But now I have a lot more work to do. Here’s the plan:
- I need to go through and resolve/fix all those little–or not so little–issues I blew past by making notes about them.
- I’m going to be looking at each scene, trying to figure out (a) if it needs to exist at all, (b) if it needs to be there, is there a way to increase tension?, (c) if its setting is just stupid & could be made more interesting, (d) if there’s a way to sort of reflect what’s going on in other scenes to tie them together more strongly, and (e) if it could use a snappier entry or exit.
- This book has two major POV (point of view) characters, both first-person. So I need make sure I’ve differentiated between them…but this is actually going to be blended with the next step.
- I have hardly any description of the “physical” world in the book right now. I almost always go back and add that later. This time, my characters are using first-person, so I’ll need to color everything appropriately. To do this and #3 at the same time, I’ll retype the book from scratch.
- I’ll print out the book with page numbers, shuffle all the pages, and try to find a way to improve each page–working with a pencil. Then I’ll make those changes in the document.
- I’ll send it off to an editor. She’ll be looking at structural problems, such as whether I am boring the hell out of her. And she’s easily bored, which is one of the reasons I like her.
- I’ll start working on a book cover. I used to be a half-assed graphic designer. I’m trying to get back into it.
- When the book comes back, I’ll make all changes the editor’s input seems to justify.
- I’ll read the whole thing aloud, and record it. I find all sorts of clunky language that way. I’ll make notes as I go.
- I’ll either fix all the stuff from #9 in place, or retype from scratch again, depending on how I feel about the book at that point.
- I’ll do my “proofreading” step. Which, for me, means starting at the back of the book, going one word and then one sentence at a time, and looking for misspellings, grammatical goofery, and general halfassedness.
I may send the thing off to someone else to check after #11, and I will definitely be looking for beta readers at some point.
So, if anybody wondered how this stuff works…this probably won’t help. This is just my approach, and I may not even stick to the sequence. Kinda depends on the timing of editorial feedback.
Anyway. Have fun out there.