A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why can't I make it work - in other words, how many first drafts do I need?

I've been trying to write Marked for over a year now. It's gone through many incarnations. It was Only A Name for a while. Then I put out a call on Twitter for a new title. I was given several suggestions. Marked is the one that stuck. I completely revamped it from the earlier version of the story and thought that was it. I'd finish the first draft and then move on to another novel, saving the first draft for future revisions.

I'm on version number three now, and I don't mean through edits. I'm on the third complete rewrite of Marked. In the two previous versions there was so much I didn't like that editing wouldn't have done me any good. I have both versions saved so I can refer back to them for the things I liked, and I've taken notes on that to help with the third version.

The problem is I'm not sure if the third version is going to work either. I've already taken a large chunk of it and put it into a side file for future reference because I didn't like how the story was going at the point it was at. I like it so far but what happens if I find I don't like how it's going again? I'll probably cut the offending text and paste it into another document to save for dissection.

Why do I do this? Well, the main problem is I have a hard time settling on one story. I'm also forever tweaking the world so even though I've done extensive world building things are perpetually in flux. I try to settle on one thing and a new idea springs up and I have to examine it. If I like it, it stays. If I don't like it, it doesn't get included and I move on. I've finally settled on the look of the world and the way politics are set up in one of the countries. But there are still two more countries and a lot of races to deal with that are only vaguely formed.

Now, you might ask how that works out for me. I'm a pantser not a plotter. I sketch out my characters and get an idea of their world and then let them go from there. I let them tell their story as I write it. For a few of the shorts I've written, though they do need to be edited, it worked out great. With Marked, it's not. But if I try to write from an outline the story falters and dies and I can't get anything done.

So right now I'm just allowing the story to flow forward as it wants to, stopping every now and then to check details and make sure I'm not changing things halfway through. I'm keeping lists of things so I don't forget them and making notes as I go. Those will help with my synopsis I'm sure when I'm ready to write it. But first I have to settle on one version of the story.

So tell me, how do you do it? What do you do that makes you love or hate the first draft of your story, and what do you do about it? How many versions of your first draft do you go through before you settle on one and go from there? Am I the only one with this problem?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Death to 2013, Welcome 2014

Last year was not one of the most pleasant years I've had. I started having seizures. I spent quite a lot of time in the hospital. I had to change a bunch of medicines multiple times before I found something that would help me, and I'm still not sure about one round of meds. I'll have to wait and see if they keep working. I started having sleep issues where I didn't get much sleep during the night. I got that taken care of too finally. Himself and I started having worse problems than we were having before, a lot of which came from lack of reasonable communication on my end. We're working on that now.

I don't do New Year's resolutions. I look at those as promises you intend to break. Instead I set goals each January and try not to forget them during the year. My first goal is to continue with my improvement on the communication between Himself and I. We used to do a lot better than we do now, and I want to get that back.

My second goal is to finish and query Marked. I've been working on this story long enough. I want to complete a viable first draft by the end of January. Edit it in February. Get it out to beta readers (anyone interested in being one? I need some.) in March. Make more edits in April. Get it back to beta readers in May. Do a final edit in June. Let it sit until August. Pull it out and make more edits then. Start writing the synopsis and query letters in September and October. Get them read and edited by other people to make sure they look good. Read the Query Shark archives to get some ideas. November send out my first wave of queries and participate in NaNoWriMo. December continue work on my new novel as I wait for news from the agents I submit to.

It's an ambitious year but I think I can do it. I'd love your help if anyone wants to beta read or be a copy editor for me for some of my goals this year, if you would like to do it. I know it'll be a lot of work and I'll really need to focus to get to each of my goals. But I am determined to do this.

Happy New Year everyone!