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Writing Marathon Results . . . And Thoughts on Drafts

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This past weekend, I managed to write over 5,800 words–most of them on my current Work In Progress, Ransome’s Honor. The new material has not, however, been posted, as it is very rough and needs a thorough going-over before I put it up for public consumption. Which may be a while, because I’m trying to keep pressing forward to get as much of it written as I can before I start going back for rewrites.

When I started working with critique partners about three years ago, a paradigm shift happened in my writing. Rather than just writing and pressing forward and making notes to myself of things that would need to change in a future draft, I started going back and rewriting/revising chapters as I wrote them, thus impeding my progress. Hindsight being what it is, I know this is why it took me so long to write Happy Endings Inc. when I’d completed drafts of three other novels in the two years prior to starting HEI.

Now, I have so many people who have been reading Ransome’s Honor that I feel I have to put polished chapters up for them to read. I’m already in my third version of the beginning of the novel (1st version was for a stand-alone single title, 2nd version was as a trilogy but with the first half of the first book being when Julia and William were children), and I now feel like I’m making some headway with it. I’ve fallen back on a couple of old “crutches” I used to use back when I just wanted to get the story down and not worry about polishing until later–blank lines and info dumps.

Blank Lines: Whenever I don’t want to stop to think up a name for a minor character or place of business, when I need to look something up, or when a word just isn’t coming to me, rather than stop writing, I put in a ________________ and highlight it in yellow, which will draw my attention to it when I go back for revisions.

Info Dumps: Whenever I’ve got a lot of information–whether a character’s background (i.e., their personal history with another character, where they come from, and so on) or historical information or setting information, I’ll just go ahead and “dump” it into the exposition with the understanding that when I rewrite, I’ll have to figure out a way to weave it into the narrative so it isn’t just a dumpsite.

I believe if I continue allowing myself to write a FIRST DRAFT instead of trying to write a FINISHED PRODUCT the first time out, I’ll find it much easier to get the story written and then I’ll have much more fun in the revision process because I didn’t beat myself up about it the first time through!

One Comment
  1. Carol Collett permalink
    Wednesday, July 26, 2006 6:53 am

    Great info. I struggle with this too. Another thing I’ve tried is to write out of sequence to the story. If a scene plays itself out, I write it then figure out later where it goes in the story.

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