Sunday, February 19, 2017

Book Writing Status Report

#amwriting, novel writing, revision, drafting

Remember the book? I'm still writing it. In fact, I just started an 8-week intensive coaching session with my teacher. During this time, I'm going to completely finish the first draft.

When I say "first draft," I mean that almost every paragraph in the entire thing has or will have been revised 4 or 5 or 10 times. Isn't that nuts? Although I've been reading about writing and writers for my entire life, and even though almost all of the novelists I admire discuss revising all of the words countless times, the necessity of expansive and extensive revision still surprises me.

And, this is weird: I can't always tell what needs to be changed and what doesn't. Usually, I can totally tell. If I'm writing a book review or a blog post, I pretty much know when something has to be cut or rephrased. Even if I decide not to fix it, I can tell if there's a weak spot.

In the novel, it's way harder to determine. This is why you need readers (I found two fantastic ones in my last writing class, and we've agreed to continue to read for each other), and that's why you (okay, I) need a teacher.

Right now, my teacher has instructed me to map the entire story in a spreadsheet. My book has lots of third-person limited narrators, so I have to track who's telling what and when. I also have to map the outer events, so that together, my teacher and I can place the "reveals" in the story to keep the pacing snappy. Then, we'll track each character's inner arc and determine how each one develops or doesn't. Which minor characters are going to end up playing bigger roles? I don't even totally know yet.

Also, I have to write the rest of the words. The ending. There are about 20,000 words to go. I mostly know what happens, but there might be some surprises. 20k is both a lot and not a lot. Remember when I wrote that much in the month of November? I'll need a little of that grit in the next eight weeks.

Here's my pronouncement for the sake of accountability: This is going to get done by the end of April. And then, I'll spend the summer obsessing over the next round of revisions. There are probably 4 or 5 or 10 to go. I'm too far in to quit, and I don't even want to quit. I want to finish the book and get it out there. Is that so wrong?


LH said...

This mapping is so fascinating.
I like how you're setting out your goals and action plans so clearly.

You're rolling. KUDOS!

hammadshaikh said...

What am I really afraid of? Could it possibly be that I am not good enough? That I have no talent and I am a fake? If we go back to those things that we managed to see through to the end, what made it possible for us to do this? I'm sure that we didn't put the same emphasis on those tasks as we put on ourselves to write. We just got on with it. It was no big deal.   Authors Unite