Or so I thought.
Because I didn't have a clue what to do when I arrived and I quickly became overwhelmed.
But last year, I also read a craft book I believe offers a reasonable alternative for me, Angela Benson's Telling The Tale: The African-American Fiction Writer's Guide. (Forget the title. It does the book a disservice since her advice can be helpful to any writer.) I talked about the book here.
Angela advises against writing the first draft clear through and then trying to figure out what to do with the mess. Rather, she recommends writing the story in 100 page increments, going back and revising each segment before starting the next. She follows this process and when she finishes, she has a draft that she's reasonably satisfied with and only needs to polish.
I like her books and respect her talent. She's also an analytical person like me so I'm trying this approach.
I've got 12,457 words. 4 chapters. 74 double-spaced pages.
Now, I'm stepping back and figuring out what needs to be corrected or what holes need to be filled. I began knowing my heroine's mother is deceased. I was fuzzy, however, about how and why her mother died. Now I'm not. That's backstory but it impacts her thoughts, dialogue, and actions. I've also changed the heroine's occupation.
Then, my hero and heroine were getting on my nerves. They were snapping at each other. A lot. This isn't a "love at first sight" story but it's also not The War of the Roses. So I need to soften the tone some. I've figured out how to do that through the understanding of my hero that came from writing the first portion of te the story. He's changed from someone not interested in romance to someone who is interested, just not with her.
As I'm making these changes, I'll also look for ways to tighten the prose and sharpen the dialogue. I'll try not to dwell on that stuff too much though because I don't want to get bogged down with trying to perfect this portion of the story. My goal is write another complete manuscript.
One reason I'm able to approach writing this way is that I have a synopsis for the story. Another thing Angela recommends. Last year, I tried a more fluid approach, letting the story unfold as I wrote. Didn't work for me.
Now I know where my story is going and largely how it's going to get there. There have already been some departures in the first four chapters but that's fine. They've helped me to flesh out my characters a bit more and lose some tepid plot points. But I still have a clear end and can see my way to it. That gives me more confidence to write the story.
I must admit I feel some trepidation. Part of me wants to keep writing and worry about this stuff later. But Albert Einstein defined insanity as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." I'd like to finish this story and preserve my sanity.
After I complete the entire story using this process, I'll turn to my crit group for feedback.
How has your process changed since you began writing? Have you settled in to a single method or are you still making adjustments?
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Move Forward. Believe.
Peace & Blessings,
Stay focused. Be deliberate. Believe.