I was having the most fascinating conversation with a writer friend the other day about how working on the dark parts of stories can affect your mood. She’d been working on a horror novel and I’d been editing a tough, angry emotional scene. Neither of us could do it without the emotion bleeding into us in the real world.
She’s made the decision to give the novel a rest, at least for a while, and I was incredibly happy to get to the end of my chapter and move on.
It got me thinking that this is why in my scratch drafts and even first drafts the emotion is often underdeveloped in those kind of scenes. It makes sense that I don’t dig deep on the first go round; I might put the draft down instead of pushing on.
It also got me thinking that if a quarter of what I was feeling, working on this particular scene, showed in my face as I was editing, then there’s a reason people haven’t been sitting next to me on the train recently!
Sometimes when I’m deep in an edit, I like to read fiction that is totally different to what I write. I find it refreshing to visit words that I probably wouldn’t/couldn’t write and part of that is to look for inspiration on how I might do something differently or it might suggest a solution to a problem.
I also enjoy being reminded that there are so many ways to tell a story, mine probably doesn’t suck as much as I think it does in those dark editing days!
So the PAR (post apocalyptic romance, just to be clear) edit is going. And going. And gooooiiiiing.
I don’t know why I’m so surprised that I’m reworking and rewriting as much as I am, to take it to 2nd draft, but it has surprised me. Probably because I enjoyed the 1st draft so much that it didn’t feel like would want to change it to such a degree.
To date I’ve added two whole new chapters (hello 120K) and rewritten two other chapters.
Not that I’m concerned, or complaining really. It just surprises me at each step. In fact, overall, I think the edit is going pretty well. With luck I might have a nice 2nd draft by Christmas, but I’m not putting a deadline on it. I know this amount of reworking means I may well run out of steam and need to switch back to the novella series before the end!
One of the lovely things about PAR as a project is that I like spending time with these characters. It’s a pleasure to do three versions of a scene and I don’t know I’ve ever said that before.
I’ve been heavy in the editing over the past few days and it’s been a bit of slog to be honest. Not so much because the edit is hard – though I won’t call this one easy – but because I’m suffering from procrasinatitis! You know, inflammation of the procrastination muscle.
To avoid working, I have over the past two days:
- listened to podcasts
- done the dishes
- made soup
- streamed a documentary
- had a long text conversation with a friend
- created a new playlist
- blogged (hmm…)
Not that there’s anything wrong with taking a break, or getting necessary household things done, but I know that’s not why these tasks got attention. No. It was totally about avoiding the edit.
The good news is that I’m still getting some editing done. As some being better than none, I celebrate this!
In fact – while I’m looking for inspirational positives – I realised today that my productivity has been somewhat better than I thought. After editing books with short chapters for a couple of years, I’d forgotten that 4K chapters feel slooooow by comparison!
I have had a hellish two weeks with the PAR! After being sooooo excited to start on a second draft, I hit a total go-slow in my writing brain (not sure what Mr Daemon has been imbibing!) and it’s been damn painful. What I needed was a completely new chapter to slip between existing Ch1 and Ch2. That turned out to be way more challenging than expected!
The reason? When I read the draft, I was jarred by the large time-gap between them and it needed a ‘bridging’ chapter. This was a better way to show the aftermath of Ch1 and the protag’s change through to the time where the bulk of the novel is set too, so it seemed simple. Totally not.
I discovered it was hard to:
- pick a point in time between the existing chapters that made sense
- decide what to cover in terms of aftermath/growth without completely gutting the existing Ch2
- choose events which gave the new chapter a good justification for existing, beyond the simple time-jump-bridging.
I think I may have written 7 different scenes. Some were variations of the same scenes and some were alternate scenes. The result was a new chapter that is about a thousand words too long! Sheesh.
At some point I’ll get that word count down, but for now I moved onto re-working the original Ch2. Also painful! Editing so it fits with the additional chapter has turned out to be its own hell.
For some reason that chapter just wants to be all dialogue. I don’t know why (secretly suspect a certain winged beastie has been watching too many movies) but it’s done my head in.
Maybe it’s a good thing to get the really tough stuff out of the way at the beginning? I’m pretty sure nothing else in this 2nd draft will be as tough.
Blurty is about to have a final edit (squeeeeeeee)! But having given it to a fellow writer for a writerly look-over may have led to an unexpected consequence…
You see my reader (you know who you are) thought this was part of a series and was VERY disappointed when I said “no, it’s a stand alone”. I’d never envisaged those characters having another story – in fact, I felt that Blurt was their story.
Then… I was sitting around one lunch time at work, doodling things in my notebook when I got curious about what a further story could be and BAM! I had an idea. A good idea.
Just to check it was a good idea I ran it past my reader and she agreed! So… well… Blurty might have a ‘sister’ down the track somewhere. My first attempt at a sequel.
I know there’s at least one reader in the world who’ll want to get their hands on it!
After spending a wonderful month in Scotland (a whole month!!) I’m back in Oz and back to normal life (sigh). The one nice thing about that is being back to writing and editing. I just can’t get anything much done when I travel – my brain is way too overstimulated by new and interesting environments.
Having said that I did manage to review some drafts of things while on the interminable 13 hr leg of the journey over and, on a rainy day in Glasgow, I did also find a new opening for one of the novellas which I’m very pleased about. The total word count for the month of May was a mere 1,000 words, but that was bonus productivity!
Since my feet touched home soil I think I’ve written something like 3,000 words on some random story that popped into my head the week I got back. I don’t think that story is going anywhere, but it felt good. And now I’ve got a bunch of editing lined up on the novella, I’ve had more feedback on Blurty which needs integrating and I’m feeling about ready to read the PAR draft I finished in April!
Daemon looks pleased.