This week at the Deb Ball, we’re talking about drafts. And as much as I’d like to say I have a methodology, it’s really just a mess. As Deb Ball reader Anthony mentioned a few days ago in the comments, you don’t really learn to write a novel. You just learn to write the novel you’re working on now. At least that’s how it goes for me.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. Ever the plotter, I do all the things. The character sketches, the outline (my current one is 42 pages), the mulling, the three-act arc, all of that jazz. But here’s the thing I don’t have: discipline. Unlike the awesome Karma, I don’t have a safe, set writing time and space.
My point is to find time you can protect, so you get your words down every day.
What I’m saying is, each draft is different. When I’m working with Dhonielle on the ballerinas, I can churn out chapters in the course of a couple of hours, because I know we’ll spend more time revising that drafting. So it’s all about getting the bones down.
My current work-in-progress? Not so much. I’ve written and rewritten the first 127 pages (I checked) about 15 times. And now my plan is to plow forward and finish the draft before I go back and let myself tinker with the beginning again. Because if I’ve learned one thing in my process on four books and counting, it’s that tinkering spells a long, slow death for any manuscript. I like novelty, and that means getting the bones down as fast as you can and then going back. At least in theory. Because the bottom line is, while I’m longing to get back to my WIP, I probably won’t until July or August. There’s just too much other stuff cooking before then.
Oh, and that’s the other thing. I’m a reluctant multi-tasker. Because we’ve got a lot happening with CAKE and we’re in the midst of wrapping up book two of the ballerinas, I can’t get back to WIP. I can open the file, look at it longingly, type a random sentence or two. But then I have to get back to the task at hand. And that book doesn’t deserve that. It deserves complete, loyal attention. So I refuse to two-time it. Because over the course of five years of writing fiction (and many years of writing screenplays before that), I’ve realized on thing: if I want to get to those ever-coveted words — the end — I have to give the book the focus that it deserves.