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Reflections on My Writing Journey - May 2016

Sara General

Happy May everyone! I just finished writing the first draft of The Fortunes of Ithaca and I’m very excited about how it turned out. It’s the first time I’ve ever written something from multiple perspectives and 3rd person limited. Over the next month I’ll be reading more about this POV so I can enhance those narratives when I return to edit them in June. I've also decided that once a month I would do a mini-reflection on my writing goals for the year (hence the title being something of a repeat from this one a little while back). Let's dive in! 

At the start of the year, I set out some production goals for myself. For 2016 I had a goal to write two novels, a novella, two shorts stories and a poem. As you might have gathered from a few of my posts, I’m about to become a mother again and I knew the majority of my attention was going to be on my new baby so I was trying to establish goals I felt were achievable. 

Still, I’m surprised that it’s only the start of May and I’ve already finished a first draft of each of the projects I listed above. That said, I know it will likely take a while to edit all of this material and since editing takes considerably more time than writing, I’ve decided to write one more novel this year (although I'm still choosing what that project will be). I love waking up and adding words to a new story, so I think continuing to work on one will be good for both me and my family. 

In the meantime, I’m focussing on editing The Wall of Bones—the third book in The Vampire Skeleton series. One thing I’ve noticed this time around is that it really does take me a few days to shift into editing mode after a long and fruitful writing stint. For the first few days of May I felt awful—like I was floundering. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on or what I should work on, which made me feel a bit lost. I realize now that this feeling of emptiness surfaces every time I finish writing a first draft and that it’s probably quite a normal sensation. To help manage the effects of it, I did a lot of free writing. This turned out to be both helpful and unhelpful. For example, I started one story and stopped writing it. Then I started another story and stopped writing that one, too. Just yesterday, I finally settled myself into some semblance of a routine and became more focussed on the editing work I have to do. 

It helped that I found an old Evernote filled with editing tips I wanted to try. I don’t know about you, but every edit I’ve done so far has always been a little different than the one that came before it. The basic ideas are the same but the way I execute those ideas varies from project to project. I can already tell that this book will be no different. 

Here’s a quick glance of what I think the process of editing the first draft/writing the second draft of The Wall of Bones will look like this time around:

Basic Steps:

  1. Reread the first draft. Make no major changes at this point but learn the story and take note of any issues with pacing, character arcs and plot. 
  2. Develop basic outline and make a schedule of edits that need to be addressed related to the above.
  3. Establish a second schedule of edits that deals with specific issues one pass at a time: add more sensory detail, search for redundant words, add better dialogue, similarities in how chapters start, creating stronger hooks, themes and motivations.  
  4. Edit for spelling and grammar. 
  5. Turn book over to first reader.

 

What I’ve outlined isn’t significantly different from what I normally do when I’m in editing mode but I usually separate these tasks out across several drafts (draft 2, draft 3, draft 4 for example). This time, I’m hoping to simplify the process by having a very comprehensive second draft that I then turn over to my first reader. I’m calling the whole operation: Eight Drafts in One. (Joking. I’m not calling it anything, but basically, that’s what it will be). Should be exciting! My goal is to have worked through the majority of this edit by the end of May. I’ll be sure to post an update on my progress sometime in June.

What about you? How do get yourself excited about and organized for editing? Please share in the comments!

Till next time, happy writing everyone!

S