Half-Way Point

Only a few days late. I meant to write this sooner. Honestly.

Last week I finished going through my catalogue of scenes and making notes on what needs to be trashed, trimmed and entirely rewritten. There were one or two that seemed dubiously ok for the time being. I doubt that will last, I think I just need to do all the rewritting to see how it fits into the new draft before I figure out what really isn’t working. Then I typed up those notes into a new outline so all those notes would be organized.

Then Saturday, precisely at the half way point, we had a marathon day of editing. Four of us brave (read insane) souls gathered at 8 am at Bridgehead. We worked for 3 hours before taking a lunch break, which included a nice stroll. Then on to the public library to clock another two hours. At that point one member of our party had to leave on a solo adventure. We were all waning, so we parted ways, took a couple of hours off, and then logged back on via facebook to start another session. All told, I did 7 hours of writing. I had already managed to get caught up on my editing quota Friday evening, so I was able to get a few days ahead. This proved to be a very good thing. Sunday was Father’s Day so I didn’t get any editing done, and then yesterday was a bust. No good reason. I was tired and missed the morning writing session, then lunch distractions. I’m still on track though.

So far I have ploughed through 5 chapters of the novel. It is a hard slog. There is a ton, and I mean a ton of work to be done. Saturday was when I realized just how bad it was. I knew it wasn’t going to be my best writing, even for a first draft, just because of the speed and mentality behind NaNo drafting. I was fine with that. It was bad. There is telling when there should be showing all over the place. Chapter 1 consisted of: Scene 1) MC doesn’t get the promotion she wanted (we actually see this); Scene 2) MC tells boyfriend this news (with an overdose of over the top character for the boyfriend through the entire book) and then tells her parents over the phone; and then Scene 3) Nothing really happens and we repeat stuff from Scene 2. So, you got that she missed the promotion, right? The issues with the boyfriend character are being fixed, don’t you fear. That involved entirely rewriting Scene 2. On Saturday, my first 3 chapters went from 14,000 words down to 7,800. The novel was 80,000 words when I finished it in November. It’s now 70,000 or less (I’m trying not to think about it too much). Maybe when I am done I will still have 50,000 left (the goal for NaNoWriMo). If I’m lucky. There’s a fair number of scenes to be fleshed out later in the novel, so maybe it won’t be quite that small. But better a tight, strong novella than my NaNo draft trying to pass as a novel.

As brutal as this editing can be – especially 7 hours in one day – I am feeling really good about the edits I am making and I know what a vast improvement it is. There will still be much to do after this month, cause there is no way I will finish going through the whole novel even once. And there will be many more edits and passes on the novel to make. I know there are nuances that I want to go back and add in later after I do the first rough edit/redraft. But once this month’s challenge is complete I won’t be dedicate all my writing time to editing the novel. There are too many short story projects to work on (edit and draft) and deadlines I need to meet.

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A Tale of Firsts

Today NaNoWriMo asked:

“Wrimos, we want to hear about your first story. The very first one that sparked your imagination. And we want you to ask your friends to do the same. Let’s take over the internet with the stories of your stories today.
Writing matters.”

I don’t actually remember what first sparked my interest in writing. I started writing when I was about 4 or 5. It didn’t take long to get started after my mom taught me how to print. I vaguely remember a couple of those old stories, but here’s the real shocker: I still have print copies of them all. So for your amusement, here is one of my very first creations (typos edited):

The Frog
Once there was a frog. The frog lived in a pond. One day the frog decided to go for a walk around the pond. On the way, he saw a girl frog. The frog went over to her and asked if she would like to go swimming with him. She said yes. The frogs went swimming then they went for a walk.
The End.

I always remember those first stories as only being about three maybe four sentences long. There are a couple that short, and a few a bit longer. The other very first stories are: A Fun Park, A Best Friend, and The Tree House.

So what’s the story behind your first story? When did you catch the writing bug?

Editing Challenge Check-in: Update on the insanity

So, 50 hours of editing in 30 days? Ya, it’s a lot. It’s crazy. I easily spent more than 50 hours writing during NaNoWriMo, but there’s a difference. For months before last NaNo I was telling people that I wouldn’t even exist for that month. *poof* Nicole, gone from the face of the planet. I lived, ate, slept and breathed NaNo for those 30 days. This month…. not so much. I didn’t get any time in on the first weekend, and hardly any this past weekend. So I’m a bit behind now. But that doesn’t matter. There’s still a chance, in theory at least, that I will catch up and still reach that goal of 50 hours by the end. That doesn’t matter either. The point of it all is that I am dedicating a significant amount of time to editing my novel. Whatever the numbers, I’m doing that, so it counts as a win.

It got off to a slow start. I had not looked at my novel since I finished it in November. Six months. Getting some space from the first draft is important before moving over into editing. Six months is maybe a little too long. It was a challenge to shift from short fiction into novel mode. I started to question the sanity of this already insane challenge. But slow and steady wins the race, and this challenge is all about injecting some much needed reflection and quality into my offering to the NaNo god that is Quantity.

The first step: taking stock of what’s there. I created a spreadsheet with a short description of every scene in my novel and made notes about what needs to be trashed, reworked or “What the hell was I thinking?” It raised a lot of questions, like is anything happening in this scene, is it moving the plot forward, where is the tension, and how do I add all of these things? Tough questions in daunting numbers. Good questions. There’s a lot of work to be done and it will be a while before I will let some beta-readers set eyes on this story. For a moment, the amount of work to be done was overwhelming. But those questions also unveiled the potential to make this story so much better. That’s exciting. And the ideas start rolling in.

The past few days have involved a lot of rethinking and re-plotting. I’ve been going through the scenes in that spreadsheet and trying to answer those questions. There’s a character to add, scenes to cut, others to write and characters to kill. (I can see the influence hanging around with Marie has had.) No spoilers about who though! Soon it’ll be time to shift gears again and start putting all these new ideas and changes onto paper… computer… we’re not counting the 30 some pages of notes on all these changes and options.

On we go.