Writing the Second Draft

So far, I’ve devoted about ten hours to revising the first 25 pages of my book. I’ve read that first drafts either, A) come up short on detail in an effort to just to get the main idea out, or B) they are filled with excess stuff that doesn’t really contribute to the plot. In situation A, important details will have to be added upon revision– gotta make sure all those ideas progress logically, and at the right pace. In situation B, the writer will have to make some tough decisions about what needs to get axed and what gets to stay. If I were forced to pick A or B, I’d say I fall into the A camp, but of course most people, including myself, would be better placed somewhere on the spectrum between the two.

Those first 25 pages were originally 16. At first I was concerned about adding so much so early. If I kept this up, my book would probably be over 115,000 words, which is no good for my genre. I don’t think it’ll play out that way though. I have to remember that the pages I’m editing now were written over a year ago. My story has grown and changed a good deal during that time and certain things at the beginning need to be adjusted to suit those changes.

I kinda adore that I can spend all these hours focused and working without it feeling like work. It’s tough, and I definitely feel the need for a brain break when I’m done, but I’m finding the process enjoyable. Now I’ve only just begun, but so far, I find revisiting my story and thinking about how to improve upon it far more enjoyable than pushing out that first draft. Not sure if that is typical or odd… what are your experiences? How did your feelings change between completing the first draft and switching on those revision gears to write draft 2?

-ED

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Editing: Day 1

I officially started editing/revising my first draft today! I was going to start last night, but instead I read a book (The DUFF, which I started around 8pm and didn’t put down until I finished it at 2am). Anyway, I got comfy on my couch, whipped out my multicolored pens, and came up with this beautiful color legend:

Lovely, isn't it? Especially the handwriting.

Lovely, isn’t it? Especially the handwriting.

Of course, I forgot to change pens here and there while editing so the whole thing is pretty much obsolete, but that’s alright.

I started with chapter one (I’ve read about people starting with random chapters to view it more objectively, but I know there a few plot and continuity issues I need to correct before I can do that). Chapter one was probably one of the longer chapters in my book, coming in at eleven pages, while most others are about eight. It took me about three hours to sift through the content on those pages (with women’s World Cup soccer as a frequent distraction). I made several changes, from swapping one word for another, to replacing or deleting entire paragraphs. It felt nice to strike through lines and lines of nonsense. By the end of it though, my eleven paged first chapter turned into two chapters spanning fourteen pages. Not only do I feel better about the content, but I managed to split up that clunky first chapter into a size that fits better with the flow of the rest of the book.

Last summer I set word count goals, and that worked out pretty well for me (during the summer- that absolutely did NOT work when I started back teaching). Since goal setting helped me through a large part of my first draft, I’m going to do the same with the editing process. So here it is:

  • Edit one chapter per day (on average), for a total of 7 chapters per week.
    • My first draft is 35 chapters so in a perfect world, I could finish editing the whole thing in 5 weeks (before I return to work full time, which is kind of critical)
  • Editing should include making paper/pen changes and then adding the edited content to my Draft 2 word document

Sounds good now, but as usual, I’ll see how the first week plays out and then decide if my goals are realistic or not.

I have lots of fun plans this weekend so I’m off to start editing chapter two in anticipation of not having time to get much done Friday and Saturday.

🙂

-ED

I wrote a book y’all

I finished the first draft of my first novel about a week and a half ago. I think it’s finally set in… both the fact that I actually finished it, and the fact that I have to do something else with it. I’ve spent a good deal of time working to convince myself that what I’ve created isn’t 100% crap. Now, it may be 99% crap, but I can work with that. The big question is where to begin! This time last year I was digging up information on how to outline and get your story started. This year I have to tackle editing the first draft. Do I start with spelling, grammar, continuity, content? Do I do all of these things at once, or make several passes through? It’s pretty intimidating to look at my near-300 page stack of creative vomit and try to figure out how to polish it into something presentable. All I’ve managed to do is go on a mini office supply shopping spree.

Editing tools!

Okay, that’s not all I’ve done… I’ve also taken all of my bookmarks for landmarks and displayed them in a shadow box. Completing a novel from start to finish was something on my bucket list (more as a challenge to myself, not an arbitrary thing to tick off a list- this writing thing is forever) and I have a habit of not adequately celebrating/acknowledging my accomplishments so I wanted to do something nice. I also like the idea of keeping up with this new tradition for any future novels I may write.

My first draft and all eight bookmarks for landmarks

My first draft and all bookmarks for landmarks

If you have any editing tips, please share them!

-ED

PS. Fun coincidence… today is an exact year since my very first blog post!

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #7

It’s done! I finished my first draft about 30 minutes ago and I am thrilled. 71,343 words. I’ll definitely be back with a longer post soon. I’ve been working on this draft for a full year and what an experience it’s been! I’m so thankful to all my friends, students, and family that have encouraged me along the way.

Here is my final bookmark! I’ll be arranging all of them together sometime soon and celebrating with friends this weekend!

71, 343 words

71, 343 words

-ED

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #6

60,000 words! Hooray! I am absolutely giddy now because the end is truly in sight (well, the end of my my first draft haha). For a while I was worried my first draft would come up a little shorter than I wanted, but now I think I’ll be sitting around a comfortable 70,000 words. It’d be lovely to finish by May because that would mark a full year on this adventure. I rarely ever see out my creative projects start to finish– I have so many unfinished sketches (I’d love to stat drawing again) and stories hanging around, it’s ridiculous. Time to change the trend!

Hopefully my next post will be celebrating my biggest landmark yet!

Until then,

ED

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #5

Yup. Here we are again and I couldn’t be happier. 50,000 words feels really special, and it’s been a long time coming. My story has taken some surprising new turns that have me feeling very positive and excited. I’m really looking forward to the summer when I have endless hours of time to devote to my book… hopefully I’ll be working on draft number two by then!

50,000 words

50,000 words

Happy February and happy writing! -ED

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #4

It took about 3.5 months, but I finally wrote another 10,000 words. I hit the 40,000 mark, which is also around my halfway point, on Thanksgiving morning. I’m not sure if my first draft will get there, but I’m expecting 75,000 to 80,000 words by the end. Now, based on my original timeline, I was to be hitting that milestone by the end of December, but unfortunately, some bumps along the way threw that off… Or maybe it’s not unfortunate at all. Maybe it’s just part of the process. I’m just so pleased to be writing again.

Bookmarks for Landmarks 40,000 words

Bookmarks for Landmarks 40,000 words

Hopefully I’ll be posting about 50,000 sooner rather than later. 😀

ED

Life’s a …

Hello everyone! Yes, I am still with the living. As you might have guessed from my 2.5 month absence, things with my first draft aren’t going very well. I saw this coming when I failed to make my first word count goal after returning to work (I’m a teacher and spent my summer off writing). When I miserably failed to make my second goal (I’d written like 1000 words in a month, my goal was 10,000), I felt really bad. I promised myself I would catch up and get back on track and at the same time, I decided to put off blogging until I had good news.

Well, I don’t have good news in terms of writing and word counts but I’m finally ready to try to reconnect with my manuscript and get back on track to finishing my first draft.

But first, a little update on what I’ve been up to other than writing. Work keeps me pretty busy and I’m also a graduate student. This means I teach, I learn, I make assignments, I do assignments, I grade papers, and I write papers. In addition to that, I coach lacrosse. All that said and done, I can’t honestly say that I had no time to write. Even with my full load, I have a fair amount of down time. So anyway, after getting back into the swing of things at work and failing to meet my first few back-at-work writing goals, I made a plan to try to catch up during our first week long break from school – fall break. Unfortunately, a heart-crushing break up threw all those plans out the window. More than one person encouraged me to pour my sadness and emotions into my writing. It made sense. My main character was actually right in the midst of some similar emotions. I was feeling so many things so intensely that I’m sure anything I would have written would have read strikingly true and honest and real… but I couldn’t write. I didn’t want to do anything, in fact (aside from sleep). For two plus weeks I moped around, slept, cried, and went out with friends and pretended to be happy and “over it.” It wasn’t until I got on the scale and found myself an unnecessary 10lbs lighter that I really realized I needed to make a conscious effort to not let myself fall deeper into my fat cloud of despair. SO I busted out the superglue, picked up the scraps that were my heart, and got busy pasting everything back together. I might have done a shoddy job, but it’ll do just fine for now.

After that, I very quickly became obsessed with letting the world see a part of me that only I know- a me that only ever actually existed inside my head. I applied for a passport, I signed up for a 5k and started working out, I spent time making myself feel pretty (painting my nails, trying out new things with my hair, picking cute outfits), I moved to a cute new apartment closer to the city and I made a choice to be happy and let life take me where it may.

The one thing that’s been late to latch on to my new and improved lifestyle is my writing. It was always on my mental to-do list, but I haven’t even gotten around to opening the Word document yet. I have some sort of mental block going on and it’s my intention to crash it down. My next week-long break is next week for Thanksgiving. I’m not going to set a word count goal or anything, I just want to reconnect with the story that had me bursting at the seams with excitement over the summer. I want to really want to write again. I feel so hopeful and optimistic about everything else in my life right now… writing consistently again would just be really amazing icing on the cake. I’d also say, even though I’m feeling so much better and SO much happier, I’m still filled with lots of potent emotions that I hope will spill beautifully into my writing.

As always, please wish me luck. I need it!

ED

El gato and I are so excited to see where life is going to take us.

El gato and I are so excited to see where life is going to take us.

Well, I saw this one coming…

One of the main purposes for me making this blog was to keep myself accountable. I didn’t meet my writing goal for August. I actually failed quite miserably. The goal was 10,000 words and I wrote 5,003. I could tell by my pacing early on that I wasn’t on track to meet my goal, so no surprises there. The bright side? Forward progress was made. That’s always something to be proud of.
Now with work, grad school, and a big move on the way, making time to write will be hard (as it was even without those things to get in the way) but I’m not changing my goal yet. I’ll give it another month. If I’m still unable to churn out much more than 5,000 words, then maybe my original goal was too ambitious, and that’s okay.
I am planning to look at September as a fresh start, as in, my goal is still 10,000, not 15,000 in attempt to make up the slack from August.

Here’s to fresh starts! Hopefully September will bring me more success.
-ED

Is dystopian dead?

I decided to write a book because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I love to read and I love to write, so taking on the adventure of creating a story, a whole world, and putting it on paper sounded like a great idea! I brainstormed for a while until I latched onto a storyline that set my heart aflutter and got my creative juices flowing. I researched how to approach writing your first novel and things like that, but I didn’t spend much time looking into the types of stories agents/publishers want to see. I didn’t do this because getting my story published wasn’t something that was really on my radar. Finishing my story was my goal. It’s still my goal. I’ll be perfectly content to complete my book and let that be the end. The process is quite the personal journey and I’ll be proud to finish this huge undertaking. That said, I still want to leave my options open.

So, out of curiosity, I started Googling a bit about the types of work YA agents/publishers are looking for and uh… it seems dystopian is not it. In fact, it seems that many push away anything with a hint of dystopia to it. It’s overdone, they’ve seen it all, they say. (more…)