Writing, by itself, isn’t a complicated act. All you need is a computer (or a pen and paper) and a daydream.
Anyone can daydream. Writers simply put those daydreams on paper.
It might take a little bit of time to get started. You might have some sort of routine you follow (certain music or drinks or whatever) but once you get into the right frame of mind, an idea just pops in that gets you excited enough to start recording it on paper. When you’re really onto something, it almost feels like the ideas are flowing through you instead of coming from you. Sometimes it seems like those ideas come even faster than you can type.
And that’s when it’s fun.
When you can just lay down one or two thousand words in an hour like it’s nothing.
Some writers might call that “word vomit” or diarrhea, but I disagree entirely. You’re not discarding anything; you’re creating.
So why does every writer act like writing is the hardest thing in the world to do?
It’s because of what comes after the writing is done. As soon as you type “The End,” the fun stops and the work begins.
This brings us to the novel I’m working on right now.
It’s so different than my first. Holy Fudgesicles is a first person story taking place in the real world, where all of the events revolve around the narrator. It’s a linear plot spanning about two weeks. Every character serves a literary purpose of advancing the story told by the narrator. While the characters are certainly not cardboard, their individual goals and personalities are only relevant as they relate to the narrator.
In my new novel, the story is told in the third person with at least four point-of-view characters. There is another handful of important characters, and each of these characters serves a much larger purpose toward the overlying plot. The characters here aren’t simply used in relation to the narrator; they each have their own goals and their own stories to tell. The “world” in this book is so much larger than that of Holy Fudgesicles, and the story is much less linear.
In other words, it’s a lot more difficult to keep track of things than it was in the first novel.
In a lot of ways, I wrote Holy Fudgesicles the same way I’d write a short story. I started out with a daydream, a basic sense of the main characters, and a vague idea of where I wanted things to go. And it worked just fine. I got the first draft done as a NaNoWriMo project, and then did a whole bunch of minor revisions, and only one semi-major revision. The editor assigned from my publisher did a great job pointing out inconsistencies in plot and timing too.
But with the new novel, I just can’t view it the same way I would view a short story. This one just covers too many things.
So here’s my basic game plan for getting this book cleaned up in time to pitch for the next conference I attend.
The first step is a fresh read-through. I haven’t touched the first draft since I wrote it several years ago, and had actually convinced myself it’s terrible. I’m not sure why, though. I’m about thirty pages in and so far I absolutely love it. During this read-through, I’m reading it mostly to reintroduce myself to the story. I’m also taking notes as I go along. So far, I’ve already found a couple of scenes that need to be switched around for better continuity and see one character who needs a bit of a makeover.
The next step will be to read it again, while making a detailed outline of the story. I know that seems backwards to some of you to outline after the fact, but I’ve just never been able to outline a story beforehand. It’s like as soon as the idea leaves my head, my creativity goes with it and writing an outline before writing the fiction takes the story out of my head.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the value of a good outline. That’s why I write one. It’s strictly there to use as a reference point for continuity and structure. This is also where I can fill in the blanks; if anything about the plot seems to be “missing” I should be able to see that in the outline.
After that I start writing again. I’ll go through the notes from the first read-through and fix everything I can, while cross-referencing with the outline. Honestly, I’ll need to add about 20,000 words to the thing to get it up to a more genre-friendly word-count. And those 20,000 words shouldn’t be too difficult to write. There is a fantasy element in this novel, so I need to do a whole ton of work on the setting, and also some of the characters need some further development.
So after that step, I should have a solid second draft completed. That’s when I’ll seek out a couple of beta readers and see what kind of feedback they’ve got for me.
I have to say, so far, I’m feeling really happy about this book. We’ll see how this revision process goes and whether I’m able to reach my self-imposed deadline.
Until then, the working title is Heroes of Eden. Thanks for reading and wish me luck on the revision process.
Do you have any revision tips to share? Leave a comment!