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.
Last week I realised it was time for me to read PAR draft I finished back in March. Dutifully, I organise a copy I could read on the train and sat down on my morning commute with it… I almost missed my stop I was so engrossed! Same thing when I decided to ‘just read a chapter’ before sleeping one night: Hello midnight!
Should I be embarrassed that I’m enjoying my own book this much? Is it a bit like laughing at your own jokes? I don’t know.
Still, it’s getting me pretty keen to start the next draft, so it’s kind of useful…
Woot! PAR’s 1st draft is done! Got to the end last night and it felt goooood.
I’m also finding it bit cool that what felt like a 120K story idea came in at 110K. Close! (We won’t mention the thousands that didn’t make the cut.) I’m guessing it’ll get bigger in the 2nd draft because – as always – there are a couple of spots that don’t have nearly enough setting. Still, the fact this is a good first draft and not a scratch draft or a draft zero has me a-smiling!
Weirdly, I enjoyed this one right to the end. Yes there were the odd tricky bits and holes to be stepped in, but I was even a little sad today as my brain had no excuse to be in that world. I suspect my protag will be glad it’s over though… my goodness did I do nasty things to the poor guy.
I’ve been off writing – still on the PAR – and it’s progressed well! I’m about to hit 90k of decent words (we won’t talk about what’s been thrown out) and I think I’m about 15K from the end. We’ll see.
What’s been amazing to me and the daemon about all this wordage is that I’ve averaged 7k a week since the start of December(!) and while that’s probably only 5k a week on working weeks, I’m pleased. I’m also still in love with the story which is remarkable. Possibly means I will come to hate it in the editing stage, but that’s fine. It’s nice to still be excited and looking forward to picking up the pen each day.
Weirdly I’m still long-handing most of it too. And is it wrong that I can completely see a movie version in my head? I don’t know.
Okay, with a work in progress nicknamed ‘the PAR’ it was inevitable I would make that joke some time… 🙂
But yes, it is running to form for a novel of mine right now. I’m so far into the story that I’m having trouble remembering what I did in earlier chapters! Which is usually the point at which I start to create a chapter map.
I’m not sure if it’s partly because I’m back to working in a straight word-processor for this, but in reality that can only be a contributing factor; all my novels have reached a stage where it’s too big to fit in my head. Of course, because of my pantser ways, I can never be entirely sure which version of a chapter/scene I ended up doing!
Side note on being a pantser: Apparently Lee Childs is one. This gives me a weird sense of… community. It’s a bit lonely out here on the pure-panter edge, as most of my writer peeps are either pure planners or planner-side-of-the-scale plantsers.