Draft 3 (On Writing and Editing)

I’m finally back at it. I spoke of a first brief bit of hope in my last post a few weeks back. I had intended to let my current WIP rest until April 1st, but then it didn’t really rest and there was much existential angst and study, and before I know it another month had progressed. 

In the mean time, I did start a new work, and now I’m almost up to 5k words on that. And to be honest I still really was never able to let the WIP rest to any great degree. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the changes that needed to be made, but for some reason I’m having trouble doing the work. I’m working through that limbo, self-doubt phase though for real. What has happened is that I have thought about the WIP enough where now it is easier to just make it less crappy and do the work, than continue to muddle over it and not move forward. 

I got my spring garden planted, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, arugula, in the extra month. My garlic from last October is looking great. I also built a large raised bed to hold all my plants. So again the rest period is not all that restful, but doing other things definitely helps the writing. Writing is a lot like gardening, or cooking, or even raising kids. It is a process, that has to be taken step by step, and though you work towards some imagined end, there is no real end and you just got to keep at it. 

I’ve been reading a lot during these last two months. I think I am at like 8-9 book so far this year. I am a little behind the pace I wanted to be, but I have been reading more overall, so it’s nice to have the challenge in mind. I’m just about to the end of Stephen King’s newer book “Doctor Sleep”, a sequel to the “The Shining”.

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I’m really enjoying it. It’s fun not just because of the interesting story, but also because I am paying extra-attention to how the story is set up, and what works. I am looking at it more as a writer, as an editor. I also recently finished the Western “Rider of the Purple Sage”, by Zane Grey. It was another great lesson in what makes a book exciting  and keeps the pages turning.   

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Stephen King is one of my heroes. I have definitely been influenced by his writing and love how he tells a story. It is all about story. Good ideas and good characters are important, but there has to be a story; Stephen King gets that. He makes you pay attention to a character, and then before you know it you’re empathizing with that character, and mad as hell at another, and then problems start popping, and you just got to keep reading for some resolution, and before you know it’s over, and you’re just out on your ass from the whirlwind. That’s what I like in books and life, getting messy in the whirlwind. 

So I started Chapter 1 today. I basically took three chapters, sixteen sum pages and smashed it into six. I probably wrote another new 1k words, reincorporating chunks of details which I felt were key from Draft 2. I also took the advice I was given and started at a point of action, and worked some backstory in flashbacks and the scene. And you know what it’s better. Not perfect, but it is a better first chapter than Draft 2’s first chapter.More than the good chapter I am comfortable and aware of how the changes looks, how to make it better, and that is my goal, steadily getting better. I was also able to go through the kept stuff from Draft 2, and edit it again, tightening up some of make dialogue tags, clarifying/rewriting bad sentences, eliminating unnecessary or incorrect details. 

It’s a weird feeling watching it coalesce, and evolve into something which feels more like the real thing. I am able to take pieces of the earlier drafts and then graph them on to a tighter narrative. It is almost as if the earlier drafts become cheat sheets that I can than plagiarize to make a better story. Anyways, I could go on all day. I hope you out there are progressing in your efforts. Do the work! 

 

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2 thoughts on “Draft 3 (On Writing and Editing)

  1. Good point about earlier drafts as being cheat sheets. When I was really naive, I thought novels were written on one pass. I was super stoked when I finished my first manuscript, but then super bummed when I realized it was more of an 80,000 word outline. But like you said, it’s like a cheat sheet, upon which a better story is written. Takes time…a lot of time…

    1. Yep, that was exactly my experience. It’s hard to understand the whole draft process until you really get down to the work. The time aspect is really challenging. You want to get something done that you can share and have that sense of accomplishment, but first you got to rewrite the whole thing! I’m just already accepting the fact that even after this major patch of rewrites, it’ll still require another reading/draft. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, because every bit of work I do I get closer to the best I can do. Thanks for your comment, hope your own work is productive.

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