I am finally approaching the end of my WIP (work in progress). For those of you with a score card, this is Draft #7. I have never done a novel in fewer than seven drafts. I sure do wish I could, but so far the slow and tedious route seems to work for me. I started this book in January, 2005. I had to take several long breaks away from it for school visit travel, and some family concerns.
I am a fluid writer, meaning that during the early drafts I go where the character wants to go. I don’t force myself to follow an outline. Outlines bore me, so I don’t use them, though I know a number of authors who can’t imagine working without one. I use the early drafts to get to know the characters and to focus on the voice of the narrator. Then I work on structure – what happens, and what happens next, and what happens next.
In this book, working with the structure of the novel has been a fascinating ride. I think I finally have the right course…. ask me in a couple days and I’ll know for sure. At this point I think I’ve written and thrown out nearly four hundred pages. It used to kill me to do that. I’d moan and gnash my teeth and tear out my hair and stomp my feet. I got over it. All of those pages were necessary to help me figure out who my MC (main character) is and what he wants. It does not matter how many pages you write. Anybody can write pages. What matters is that you select the right scenes, with the best balance of action, dialog, and narration, to unfold your story in the strongest way possible. If I could find a way to do that in one or two drafts, trust me – I would. But slow and steady seems to be my lot in life.
Once this draft is done, I’ll put it away for a few days. When I pull it back out, I will edit it for consistency issues (though I think I’ve already taken care of most of those) and language; making sure that I’ve described things well, and that the dialog doesn’t run on too absurdly long. Then I’ll send it to my editor and pace nervously (def. a challenge on crutches) for the verdict.
What other revision questions do you have?