My nano novel this year was more of a novella at 35K words. However I’ve decided not to give up on it. Just like revising and submitting Hindsight will only make me a better writer, revising Heroes in Name will also make me a better writer. The biggest problem I have is revision. I’ve done a partial revision on With Teeth, back when it was called something else and have since decided to rewrite it rather than revise it because most of the draft was crap and I wanted to go in a different direction.
I had been planning on doing the same with Heroes, thinking that a complete rewrite would be the only way to make it good enough. However today I took another look at it and there are gems hidden throughout. Not sparkly gems, they still need some polish, but I can keep the basic plot of more than half the written scenes. Of course to make it a novel, I’ll have to add several, over 50 new scenes, which shouldn’t be too difficult once I get a grasp on it.
So how did I figure this out? By going scene by scene and writing a brief sentence describing the main action of each scene. Then I went scene by scene and marked what scenes are basically keepable as is, which scenes need work but can be kept and which scenes make no sense now. Overall, between in tact scenes and workable scenes, I have about 43. The beginning needs a bit of work and the ending needs to be fleshed out and I need a whole lot of middle, but there is something there that tickles me, that makes me want to delve back in.
So new goal. Revise Heroes in Name, at least one full revision in 2014. I’d like to get it out to Beta readers sometime this year and so that is my stretch goal.
I’m not done examining what I already have. Following Holly Lisle’s How to Revise a Novel, I’m now working on figuring out the plot that I got and the conflicts that I’ve started to develop.
My writing method makes sense to me, but probably doesn’t make sense to other writers. Some probably do things pretty close to how I do and otherwise do the exact opposite of each. So what is my method?
First I outline. I tend to do limited amount of world building and character building. I prefer to discover those types of things as I write. What I do need to know is who my main characters are and what they want, why they want it and what is stopping them from getting it. From there I do a line for scene outline that includes what the character in the scene wants, whats standing in their way and if they get it or not and what worse thing happens to propel the story forward. I stick pretty close to my outline though I’ve been known to change stuff around while writing. This really helps cement what needs to be written each day.
Next I write the exploratory first draft. I follow my outline and just write. I don’t worry about prose or even making scenes come alive. There are a lot of talking heads in my first drafts. A lot of dense sections of action and then a few, but not many descriptions. My settings are bare, my characters naked and the bare bones exposed.
After a first draft, I try to let it sit a bit but usually I’m ready to start revisions. Revisions for me can take more than three times as much time as a first draft. My first revision is usually a rewrite. The plot had gotten messed up, the ending is rushed, scenes are missing, etc. I do a first read through, making notes on what does and doesn’t work. Then I write an outline of what each scene that actually made it looks like. Usually my scenes will drift a bit from outline as I discover more about my characters and world. This is where I do more world building, answering the questions that came up during the first draft. After all of this analysis I write a new revised outline. I then start at the beginning and write through my outline, sometimes transferring full scenes from draft one to draft two but that depends on how much I keep from the first draft. My first two novels have almost nothing kept because I changed so much.
The third draft is where I flesh out scenes, bring the senses alive and making sure the setting adds to the scene rather than being a dull backdrop. This is where everything gets nailed down and character begins to shine. Second draft is all about fixing the plot. The third draft is about fixing character and setting.
The final draft is the polish. This is where I pump up my verbs and nouns. I cut, cut, cut until the prose cuts back. I make sure it is both readable and enjoyable. I spend time on perfecting similes and metaphors. I also pay more attention to grammar. Once this is done, I’m ready to look for betas.
So what’s your writing process? Do you have one true way of doing things or do you like to try different techniques for different projects?