Tuesday, January 20, 2009

completing a novel draft is just the first step

As I think about my three novel drafts and compare their completeness to what I see other authors do, I am realizing that my drafts are a lot like very detailed outlines with dialogue, events and description. Whether I do a lot of research and make a lot of lists or not, I still have much to do when the draft is finished.

The first novel I've edited three times so far. I moved things around and got them to where I thought they should be. Then I started editing. No edit round so far has taken me all the way through the novel. After my third attempt, I found I needed to move a section further to front. I've also learned that even though the first three pages are critical (and first sentence and paragraph), I can't write that way. I have to put in the first few pages what needs to be there.

As I wrote my third draft, during NaNoWriMo last November, I realized I was just making work for myself. Although I completed the draft in 30 days, that's just the beginning. After that comes cooling off, reading (I can't really read when I'm writing – it slows me down), and editing. Not to mention adding left out plot points and fleshing out characters. And, in the case of my second novel, figuring out how it ends. Yikes!

My first novel I wrote while hurriedly researching for and tracking with diagrams the complex web of societies and cultures I had created. I made lists, bookmarked web pages, and put any stray papers into a folder. Writing the third novel I just made it all up. I did the minimal amount of research fearing I would get sidetracked and keeping in mind David Robbins admonition that "you are the artist - you decide how it goes" (probably paraphrased). So, I just made up whatever I didn't know. I guess that's why it's called fiction.

Either way, researched or not, diagramed or not, what I have at the end of the process is a very rough draft that now needs a lot of love and attention. And a lot more than 30 days.

No comments: