A Brief Update…

I’m torn. Part of me feels guilty that it’s been so long, but the other part of me is trying to be a realist and remember exactly how hectic life has been recently. That I’ve passed out before 9pm every night this week (often before the kids have) is tribute to how exhausting things have been.

I forget exactly where I was the last time I blogged*, but this is where I am now:

  • The first draft of my second novel is complete, rested (a little) and now being worked on. I burned out a bit at the end, so spend a couple of much needed weeks off playing Fallout (3…sadly I’m not flush enough with cash or time to justify updating our PS3 yet). I was reluctant to get back into it, but made myself tart up a chapter to take to my writing group, and not only was it well received but seeing the prose tidied up gave me hope again for the story as a hole, so I grabbed at the momentum and have been working on it since.

 

  • I’m going against the advice to print and read the whole thing in one go. I tried it last time, and found I got overwhelmed by the pages of scrawl and notes everywhere. Because I know a lot of the issues that are in the first draft I’m doing a brief read-edit to get the whole a bit tidier before I do the Big Read. Hopefully it will help me get a better overview with fewer things to niggle over.

 

  • I’ve mentioned before that I like to use a spreadsheet to log my wordcount. I’ve found that logging my editing days and notes is just as motivational. It lets me see how well I’ve actually done when I’m on a good run. I’m focusing on time spent, change in wordcount (goes up and down depending on what scenes I’m working on need), notes on revision tasks undertaken, and general notes (usually along the lines of “Urrrgh, so tired…”).

 

  • I’ve been working on a couple of short stories-one horror, one children’s picture book (diversifying much?!). Both started well then stalled for different reasons. I’m hoping to dip back into them when I get a bit of inspiration or I need a break from novel revisions.

 

  • I’ve been reading more. Largely because I got to actually have some holiday during my recent holiday, and I remembered how lovely it is to read a book properly instead of in 1-2 line chunks before someone interrupts me, so I’ve been making more of an effort to get those longer lengths of time (although that’s largely come at the expense of writing time, so I’m not sure how sustainable it will be. Hopefully as the kids get bigger and life gets a little calmer…hahaha!)

 

  • I’ve been outlining(!!!) my next novel. This was partly something I’d intended to do, then used to procrastinate starting revisions! As it is I’m enjoying dipping in, partly because it’s my Big One that I devised the concept for before I’d even started writing my first novel (it was initially going to be a board game, but it turns out board game design is HARD! Who’d have thought it, huh?!), so it’s already been stewing a while, and I’m happy to let it grow. The most productive parts have been writing short character pieces and scenes in the world, rather than trying to force a plot (I tried this and have scrapped most of what I came up with because it felt so…forced!)

So that’s pretty much me for now. I’ll try to make more effort to update, and who knows, even talk about non-writing things!

 

*I could (and maybe should) check, but I promised myself this would be quick else I would have argued myself out of logging on!

Second Draft Lesson: Slap Down My Perfectionist!

I’ve made a massive mistake with my writing.

I forget about my naughty little re-write habit.

It happened when I looked at the garbled mess of characters and story threads, gaping plot holes and major POV and tense issues, and decided the best plan was to use that as an outline and rewrite from the start. I could see it: consistent POV and tense, avoiding passive voice and adverbs…it was all going to be so much better, so pretty and shiny…

SO PERFECT!

That’s where the alarm bells should have clanged, because I did the exact same thing at least twice with the first draft.

But I knew I wasn’t going to do that. I just needed to open a blank Word document, write through and…

Just change that bit..

And that…

Maybe I’ve started in the wrong place?

And need to change this scene…

And…

How’s it been 3 months and I haven’t aand a minute doing a Search & Replace to update names.ctually made any progress?!

I took a break from the novel. Then I got some feedback that confirmed what I already knew: I needed to cut the new scenes I’d been tweaking for weeks and start later.

Probably from my old starting point.

The one I wrote ages ago.

Because, you know what?

I’ve already written the first draft.

WHY THE HELL AM I WRITING IT ALL OVER AGAIN?!

After kicking myself for being an idiot I spent approximately ten minutes copy/pasting and a minute doing a Search & Replace to update names. I had my new, tweakable second draft.

I worked out a plot template as a checklist in all of about an hour.

I’ve redone the first read through.

So now I have a task list to stick to. No more blank pages to trick me into going back.

For those who are interested, this is it for the next few passes:

  1. Put scenes in chronological order according to outline.
  2. Cut dead scenes.
  3. Add new scenes that I missed for various reasons.
  4. Cut dead threads, scenes and redundant characters.

Only then, am I allowed to check for conflict, flow, logical character decisions…and THEN sort tense & perspective.

I’ve also printed off this guide from Janice Hardy’s Fiction University site ready to check off as I go.