Friday, August 28, 2015

The Finish Line - Step One of Edits

I've been meaning to post for the last week and a half but I've been so busy with my manuscript, I keep forgetting.  The good news is, I'm looking at having the first draft done by Monday!!


It's been an odd experience from start to finish with this manuscript.  I've finished the first draft for four manuscripts before and only two of them are even halfway presentable.  One of those two is a 30,000 word novella which I wrote in three weeks two years ago and have never gotten back to.  The other two have long since found their way into my recycling bin, which is possibly too good of a place for them.  The fourth one, of course, is Only Human.

I've been working on Queen of Time since January 18, 2015 which is a long time for a first draft but considering I'm looking at an ending word count of 135,000, it's not too bad.  It's certainly the fastest I've ever written a novel, certainly one of this length.  Only Human was really long before edits for me and it was 115,000 words.  It also took me two and a half years to finish - the first draft.  In editing my 21,000 word chunk to send to my critique group this week, it's now down to 18,500 words so I'm guessing my bulky story will shrink down under the same process.

This year's writing experiences have been informative, painful, and roller coaster like.  I thought I had the story all figured out when I started and it's gone in so many directions I never could have predicted.  I've brought in characters I never cared to include but am now so attached to (i.e. Gawain) and gotten rid of characters I thought would be crucial to the story.  It's going to be a lot of work chipping it down and making a good story out of it but the gem is there.  Buried deep deep deep down where only a determined (and possibly crazy) author would go, but I believe in it.

After I finish on Monday, I'm going to print the whole thing out.  I bought myself a new notebook and a set of highlighters and I'll be setting to work on Friday.  I'm not going to chop it apart yet.  It's too soon at the end of a project.  On Friday, I'm taking it to a local outdoor mall and I'm going to read it in one sitting.  I have a notebook where I'll note all the plot holes/changes in plot I see being needed.  I have four different colored highlighters which I'll be marking different things with.  Orange will highlight sentences out of character, yellow for outdated or discontinued story lines, blue for awkward sentences, and red for repetitive words.  I'll mark that baby so much it will hardly be readable and then it will be going under my bed for a minimum of two weeks.  Enough time for me to detox, work on other projects, and forget about the problems in the book, for which there are many.  I've never really set aside my work for so long after writing the initial draft but I've always been tight on a self imposed deadly.  I'm changing my method up a bit this time.  The few weeks time away from it will allow me to concentrate on other things I've been letting go and even start on the final book of the series.

I cried for the first time while writing this week.  I'd like to say it's because I was so wrapped up in the artistic intensity of the moment but it probably had more to do with the fact I'd been sitting for three hours and was six thousand words deep into my day.  There are some difficulties at the end of my book and *spoiler* some deaths that have to be dealt with. *end spoiler* It was a struggle for me to write them because I've been dreading it since I started seven months ago and then, as I was writing, it occurred to me all the characters were dying.  Not because I was killing them but because I wouldn't be writing them again.  Yeah, I'll be editing and doing rewrites but I'm nearing the second step in the journey where I'll be deepening their characters and it's only going to be harder in the next few months when I finish my edits and really let them go.  If you're not a writer, this will sound like crazy talk to you but if you are, I know you get what I'm talking about :)

I'll make sure to write again, even if it's a short post, when I have the official first draft wrap and then again after I get a chance to study my work Friday and share some thoughts!

- Anna Leigh

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