It’s been two weeks since I last put up a post. What ever have I been up to?
STICKING TO THE PLAN
I’m happy to report that all I’ve been working on in the last two weeks, other than a couple of Flash Fiction stories, is the next draft of CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE RISING DEAD.
Since New Year I’ve been going through the three CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD stories that I wrote in 2015. I spent a lot of time scribbling down notes, fleshing out characters, and working on the plot in more detail. I also went back and built up the history, sticking pins in all the main story beats that occur to our main characters, and what events get all the pieces in place before we open book one. I’d had a rough plan for everything before writing the stories, but January has been about getting it all much more concrete.
Once that was all done, it was onto the scary second draft.
BE MY GUIDE
First things first, I needed to plot out the story beats; what each chapter was about. My NaNo draft had holes in places, and pointless chapters in others. I needed to find out what was broken and either mend it, or remove it completely.
So I now have a spreadsheet with all the chapters listed, all the plots linked, and all the characters paths and interactions laid out. It’s an easy over view, and it lets me untangle the story. It has helped highlight some issues with a particularly unnecessary character, as well as a couple of scenes that messed with the pacing.
With a plan in hand, I got on with the rewriting.
T’WAS NANOWRIMO MADE ME DO IT
Normally, when I write, whether it’s Flash length or novel length, I prefer to get the first draft down by hand. There’s nothing better than grabbing an empty notebook (or, if I’m in the mood, just buying a brand new one), a decent pencil, and just letting an idea splurge onto the page
But for CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE WORLD there is an issue with this, one that has caused me to do things a little backwards.
You see, the biggest chunk of my writing, in any given year, is accomplished thanks to NaNoWriMo each November (as well as Camp NaNo in July). This is when I ignore editing, step over plot holes, and worrying about naming all the characters later. But there isn’t much time in my day to hit my daily word count by hand and type the story up so that it can be verified on the NaNo website. So for these two events I always type the first draft.
Now I could have just printed the first draft off and started a new file for draft two. But I read an article about the creative flow that is afforded by handwriting your fiction that doesn’t work as well when typing. So I decided to hand write my second draft, or more accurately, draft 1.5.
There’s a lot to change in CHRIS AND MIKE vs THE RISING DEAD. I wrote the first draft back in July last year, so I not only have all the things I put into books two and three last November to think about and link in, but six months of mulling book one over and over in my head.
Stuff has changed. And I’m loving it.
BUILDING BETTER CHARACTERS
The biggest change was working out how to tie the secondary villain into the plot, and not having him just being a bad guy for the sake of it. That’s all I had from the first draft; a man who's evil because I needed him to be. But that’s a hollow villain, one that doesn’t test the hero or engage the reader. So I worked on him, treating him as if he was my main character. Why was he angry? Why did he want to hurt the hero?
Meanwhile other characters slowly began to wind themselves into the plot, the history, and the bigger world of the novels. Bit part players were spliced together to fulfil multiple roles while cutting down the cast size.
Chapters have been reordered several times over. The cemetery scene that grew from the first Flash Fiction piece back in January last year has jumped around the story so much before eventually being cut – and then put back in.
It’s hard work, with several restarts stressing me out this week (a new scene solved several early plot problems until I spotted that it broke the story and had to go) but it’s getting there now. It’s becoming whole, and it won’t be long before I have something that I’m eager and proud to show to people.
Of course I’ll then have to type it up again.
I do make hard work for myself.
And that’s all, for now. I’m just going to carry on using my work lunch breaks to get the story down in order.
How about you? What is your process for the second draft? Do you prefer writing or typing? Let us know in the comments below.
Next post I’ll be taking a break from talking about my current WIP so that I can bring to your attention the pending release of the third (yes third!) FlashDogs anthology, due out Feb 8th.