January 24, 2013

plugging away

Writing book one has been more of a marathon than a race.

It's been a while since I gave an update on where I stand with my writing projects. Let's dive right into that discussion, shall we?

Though I have several works in project -- yes, several -- I'm going to focus on the one getting my TLC now.

Book No. 1: HHAD (acronym of the working title - some of you know it, but I'll wait before committing it to the universe here)

I finished the first draft in February 2011. At the time, I knew it needed a little work, but had no idea how to fix the book. The No. 1 problem: It lacked focus. Also, the first draft was written in first-person, and even as I neared the end I wondered, "Would this be better in third?"

Regardless, I did one round of edits, and trimmed the 105,000-word first draft to a 95,000-word second draft -- still in first person. By this point it was summer 2011, and I started shopping this book around to agents. Needless to say, it did not garner any publishing requests, so I put it on the back burner while I focused on a few other writing projects.

In November 2012, I finished a third draft. This one was different. I found a focus for the story, changed it from first to third and cut out about 30,000 words. Why did I cut it so drastically? I was thinking about publishing it more as a category romance, and knew it was too long. But the big reason? I was in a rush, and didn't want to tackle any of the scenes that were too big and complicated. I sent it off for a critique from an editor. She offered some great advice, and gave me more confidence in this project than I had since writing the first draft. I took a step away from the story at this time to focus on NaNoWriMo, which as you know did not go as well as I hoped.

Since taking that break, I did a lot of soul-searching regarding this project. I realized that no matter how I did it, this story was not a category romance, and I needed to be true to it. It's a romantic comedy, and I missed some of the scenes I removed. I also came up with a couple of additional scenes I wanted to add, because I know they will make this story richer.

So, last Sunday morning I printed off the third draft of this book, created text files of the scenes I removed, and made notes about the ones I wanted to add. I skimmed the draft adding post-it notes to the places where I wanted to add or re-add scenes. And right now, I am about a quarter of the way through this story doing line edits. I suppose I could have waited to do this until I added and wrote those new scenes, but I figured I'd already paid the $16 to print the book, and I might as well make this round count.

Though I am behind the schedule I wanted for this round of edits, I am still confident I can get through it and make the changes by early February. After that, I'll do a quick read-through to make sure it works. I'll share it with my betas, and hopefully we'll have some good news to announce about this book being published sometime this year.

It has been a lot of work, but I can promise you it is worth it. I never wanted this book to be one I wrote, but left in a drawer unpublished forever. I am willing to do what it takes to make it good, or to at least meet my standards.

When this one goes to the betas, I will tackle a THIRD draft of TMT. In all fairness, the second draft was basically a light edit, and this one will require the addition of scenes or developments suggested by my betas and an editor. I have also had some epiphanies on this one, which means a few tweaks to the characters and the book's conclusion. Again, this will take some work, but it's worth it.

My goal is to have this one polished and to the betas by late March. At that time, I'll do some prep work with plans of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April. I am thrilled with the camp schedule this summer, because the sessions are more spread out instead of back to back. I think for the first session, the one in April, I'll re-start the book I tried to do last June. There were some serious timeline and character development issues that time around. The time away from that story has helped me come up with plenty of ideas to help it.

I am also doing light research for the book I hope to tackle during the second session of Camp NaNoWriMo. I've been tinkering with this idea for about one year, and I am amazed at how much it has developed in my mind. I'm super excited to work on something fresh, and I hope to keep that excitement alive.

When I first started writing these books, I had every intention of writing near-perfect first drafts. I attended a writers workshop, and the guest author said she basically made few changes from her first draft, because she wrote so much. I made that my goal, but it has not happened. I figure I am still learning how to be a good storyteller. Just because I have read hundreds of books does not mean I instantly know how to write them. Even as I become a stronger writer, I know I will constantly have to adjust my way of thinking and try new approaches if I want to constantly develop.

So, now that I've rambled on about that, it's time for me to get back to those edits.

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