The Beginning of the First Drafts

In early 2012 I finished my first novel. The working project name was the Key Worlds, and I think of it as a pretty solid story in the way I like to stage my three-act tales. I learned a lot about how I outline, how I write, and how I revise when I’m stuck from that book and three years it took me to write it. Six years, two months later, I’ve completed my second First draft novels and I’ve learned more about my process and what it takes for me to finish a story. This time I’m looking to do more than finishing a first draft. This time around I’m looking to get this sucker cleaned up, edited, and published. I’m about to make a number of mistakes, newbie flubs, and other screw ups I’ll have to fix on the back end, but I’m excited about it. So, excited that I want to share exactly what my plans are for the coming weeks. In Mile Markers, I talked about what some of those steps will be. I’m hesitant to give a time table for these events as I explain them but I will anyway just to give myself a bite of accountability.

Let’s talk laying a foundation first. Before I’m willing to let the book be edited or sent to anyone else to be read, I need to make sure the story is where I want it to be. Think of this as a skeleton. Do all the bones make sense? Can the creature even hold itself up? Can it walk? Run? I’ve got to make sure the base foundation for the story makes sense and that there’s not too many vestigial bones. A few of those are fine, as they can help lead to other stories, but there shouldn’t be too many that the story feels bogged down from them. That means step one is reading the book as is and seeing that these issues are handled. It’ll require some rewriting and cleaning but that comes later. First, we’re just identifying what goes where. Time table for this is to be done by the time this post goes live. I’ll add a comment to let you know if I knocked it out of the park.

Muscle comes next. The snappy strength that helps those parts move. Flavor and style of writing basically. Scanning what I have of the book and with previous micro-revisions, I know I’m solid with much of my exposition. When my narrator talks about the intricacies of New Castle, she presents a solid world that’s a character unto itself. I’m already pleased with those, and it means my fine motor control muscles in the story are strong. What’s lacking is some of the snap; the fighting, the conflict, the sex. I get too into the expansion stage with some of those scenes, and my narrator spends too much time explaining versus snapping into action and getting the fight done. Combat needs to be fast, dirty, and over. Guns end fights fast, and real fist fights aren’t delicate. They’re brutal, and she’s not Sherlock sitting there explaining the math of what’s happening to the combatant’s bones as she is twisting his arm off. Forgot the dissertation. Just hear the pop and scream. Fixing these scenes will come with the second draft. As I’m identifying where the bones need to go I’ll string the muscles along the joints and tendons to make sure the creature moves as a smooth jogging pace. The time table to conclude this step is early May. For fun, we’ll say the 1st for now.

Now can that creature sing? One of the things I noticed with the first draft was the inconsistency with voices for some of the characters, and that’s an issue I’ll be addressing after the second draft is set. This dialogue pass will have me go through the revised novel and make sure each character sounds like who she or he is meant to. I’m not suggesting the way a character speaks can’t be adjusted but I want the slang of someone born in New Castle to be true, versus someone who travelled a lot as a kid, or someone whose first language isn’t Central Speak. It will also give me a chance to work on dialogue for those other parts of the world and to find ways to make the world’s culture stand out more. I don’t expect the dialogue patch to take too long, so I’ll give myself a week. Due date will be on the 8th.

After that it’s grammar and flow checks, and for those we’ll outsource. I’ve got an editor lined up and several people eager for the first read through of the story. Here’s where I pimp things out a bit. If you’d like to be one of these alpha readers, jump over to my Patreon. While not the only way to become an alpha reader, you’re guaranteed a spot if you jump in even at the starter level.

Okay, that’s it for now. Time to get to work.