Keep an eye out on my blog for the cover reveal of Uprising (Children of the Gods #2) on Wednesday August 22nd. It's awesome!
We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog post already in progress.
Ok, I need to get this out of my head so I can continue writing my current WIP. I've learned a lot writing my the first draft of Stone of Unity. Not surprising considering the act of writing is practice for future writing.
Very zen and circular, I know. Deal with it.
Anyway, I wanted to impart some of the things I have learned about the process and the story as it unfolded through the first draft. For those of you crazy enough to follow me on twitter, you may have seen me talking about possibly rewriting the entire thing. For those of you who have finished your novel, you may know what I'm talking about.
Some of my betas are freaking right now, and I can assure them, that Stone of Unity may change significantly, but the characters you have come to know and love will still be in there. The plot should stay mostly the same, but I have decided to shift the focus a little (or a lot depending on how you look at it).
Here is what happened. Partway through the first draft, one of my side characters decided that she was one of the main characters. This caused some shifting, but I was jumping POV from chapter to chapter, so it wasn't a huge deal. Then I considered moving chapter 2 to chapter 1 and vice versa. Ultimately, this didn't do much, but it did cause my brain to start really altering the story mid-way through.
This started more thinking.
Then I decided to post said new Chapter 1 on the WriteOnCon forum/online conference. It was fascinating and I got some feedback. This is the feedback I got that really got the ball rolling in my head.
The idea that there's a grumbling mentor figure who will undoubtedly become lovable in our eyes, and a smart young girl about to embark on a journey with this man.Then I started thinking...and thinking...and thinking...and I realized that my focus was completely wrong on this story. I needed to narrow my focus a bit and write the story that people wanted to see. So, I have my chainsaw ready to hack my story to bits. Hopefully the sound of the engine will drown out the screams of my betas.
So the lesson?
Oh yeah, I did promise that...
- In the first draft, nothing is sacred
- Sometimes secondary characters are more interesting than primary characters. Don't hesitate to swap them.
- Don't feel bad if you need to hack off chunks of your novel. This doesn't mean you are a failure, it just means that it isn't working. I've seen several authors on Twitter talk about chopping 20K or more from a story because it wasn't working. Their stories will be better for it (even if they lose a little more of their sanity in the process).
- Do not delete any of your work. Start a new project file/folder and start from there. You never know when you'll want to refer back to it.
P.S. September sign-ups for #writemotivation are going on right now. Click here to sign up. It's awesome and very helpful.
Absolutely don't feel bad about hacking chunks off first drafts, I completely agree. First drafts are just about getting it down on paper I think!ReplyDelete
I completely agree! I just feel bad for the betas who had to wade through the part I sent out. Oh well, first draft. Right? :DDelete
#1 was the biggest lesson I learned with my first draft of my current WIP. Nothing is sacred, like you said, and I ended up chopping out huge pieces that didn't fit. It's a process and I don't think we ever finish learning. Glad SoU is coming along well, though, and that you're getting good feedback. Having beta readers that you trust is such a big part.ReplyDelete
Yup. They are awesome and I love them all. :DDelete
Very valuable insight and lessons...I agree, when one character's voice outshines all the rest, it's time to let them be the hero(ine). I don't even want to think about what I'm going to have to re-arrange, delete, re-write, or any other major correction in my own, so I'm going to sit and ponder how yours is going to turn out!! :DReplyDelete
Even if you do need to change things drastically, it doesn't undo all the work you have done to that point. It's part of the journey.Delete
Excellent advice! I was married to the ideas in my WIP's original first draft... now I'm on a "2nd first draft" ;) because I got about 8 chapters in and realised the MC needed a brand new personality ;)ReplyDelete
It just goes to show how useful getting feedback is--even the smallest thing can make us see something huge we might've otherwise missed. Great!!
Luckily, I've never been married to an idea so much that I didn't feel I could change it. I don't know if it is learned behavior or just my personality.Delete
That's a good way to be. I've had to learn the hard way how to let go - and am still learning. If I can find someone to tell me what's wrong with an idea, I gladly consider changing it. But when it's ME coming up with the new ideas, sometimes that's even harder because I don't know whether to doubt my original idea, or my new one ;)Delete
Don't doubt either idea. Any new ideas on a WIP are just that ideas. The whole purpose of rewriting is to improve the original. You wrote the original the best you could at that time. Now, you've learned a lot from all the writing you have done. You're brain sees it differently.Delete
I usually end up cutting off the first two chapters of a new novel, but I save the cuts and pick out the bits of backstory essential to the plot. Then I pepper those bits back in.ReplyDelete
Cutting characters is my nightmare. But I cut two in Botanicaust. I saved all those snips, too. Now one character has turned into a short story of his own. So even when you cut, save everything!
Oh definitely, Tam. I'm actually going to create an entire new project in Scrivener when I start rewriting. That way, if I need it, I can always refer back to it. Besides, that entire 61K words can always be used as behind the scenes fuel for what is happening around the new MC. And who knows, maybe I'll have enough for a sequel/accompanying novel. :DDelete
Thanks for the advice, Andrew! That's good to know. I am doing my darnest to get this story out. Sometimes it fights me. Sometimes it doesn't. I worry about how many words I have and if I will have enough words...never worry about too many. But I'm getting there.ReplyDelete
Yes, and the first draft is always hardest. A lot of people think it is rewrites, but I think it is the first one. You'll get there. :DDelete