|Image courtesy of Maliz Ong on publicdomainpictures.net|
- Fast drafting WORKS. I wrote things into my story that I would never have thought of if I'd plotted it all out beforehand. A plot blueprint would have kept my focus in specific places, whereas the freedom that came from following Jami Gold's beatsheets and using the fast drafting method meant that my subconscious could direct the flow much more. Fast drafting was tough, but it was so worth it.
- I can read as many books as I like on how to revise and edit, but there's nothing more useful than doing an actual revision for myself. For one thing, I have finally got a feel for (as opposed to the knowledge of) how external plot arc and internal character arc fit together. It happened when I reached the aftermath of The Dark Night of the Soul where I'd focused only on inner arc and knew something was missing. With the help of my internal editor (it DOES have its uses!!), I recognised that the characters needed to take action to move the external plot forward. I could read all about this, but seeing it in my own work made the theory come to life.
- I've been too rigorous in discarding previous writings. I have about nine different versions of this story from its first incarnation in 2003 to the present 'first draft' in 2014. Each time I finished a version, I knew that the story wasn't right, and put the entire ms into a boxfile.
- Love lists are AMAZING tools! Now that I'm rethinking the initial set up for the story and how that impacts on the female protagonist's background and backstory, my love list (see this post) is reminding me just what it was that I loved about my story (and my heroine) so that I don't change things too much and turn it into a completely different story.
- I've been reading a chapter or so of The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke each time I sit down to work on the read-through and I've learned a lot about what a writer needs to accomplish. Last night, I bought Alicia Rasley's The Story Within Plot Guide for Novelists (The Story Within Booklet Series) and in the introduction I read something that has made me look at my draft in a whole new light, especially since it touches on the uneasiness I'd felt about certain aspects of my plot.
Despite the fact that I read all about islands a year or so ago in Mary Carroll Moore's Your Book Starts Here, it never occurred to me until last week that in those boxfiles lay dozens of islands that I could use in my current incarnation of the story. Every draft I'd considered 'not good enough' when viewed as a whole contained many, many islands or smaller units (such as scenes, ideas, plot points, snippets) of 'just right for the story'. And I'd tossed them all out! Now that I've finished the read-through, it's time to resurrect those islands that fit this story and load them into my Scrivener project.
Rasley advises writers to find the excitement within their story instead of grafting exciting elements onto the story that very likely don't fit. The opening of my story takes place in a reality modern readers recognise and understand and it then moves to an alternate reality that is very different. In "The First 50 Pages", Gerke tells us that we have to establish genre, so I've made this a lot more difficult to do, given that my story could be a contemporary YA or NA if one reads the start, and could be a fantasy if you browse through the middle. This could very well be a Big Problem.
In terms of what my next steps are to prepare for my second draft:
a) I need to have a chat with some writing buddies I hang out with in a Google+ group and get their thoughts and opinions on what I've found so far;
b) After that, I'll be trawling through boxfiles looking for my islands;
c) And then it's time to take my first draft notes and some blank index cards, and work through Lesson 2 of Susan Dennard's revision guidebook. (Scroll down the page a bit till you come to her revision process section.)
Busy, busy, busy!
Check out the other blogs taking the ROW80 challenge.