Thursday, February 19, 2015

On Writing a Book, the Slow Process of

I'm working on a novel which I started about a year ago. I wrote a chapter-for-chapter outline, then raced through the first draft in six months, finishing around August last year - a first draft record for me. Caught up in this triumph, I figured I'd fly through revisions and be able to query by the end of the year, at the latest.


The pros of the industry know: writing is rewriting. By creating an outline before even typing a word of the story, I thought I could prevent the necessity for large revisions. I pictured myself churning out a first draft that was near perfect and would need only little tweaks, not major plot and character adjustments.

I should have known that the thump I heard was the Goddess of Writing, laughing so hard she fell off her ergonimic swivel chair.

When I realized the true extent of the revisions necessary to make the book the best it could be, I lost momentum. Well, I lost heart, to be honest. I felt like this great idea and these amazing characters were buried in the gigantic mound of dung that was the story. I looked at the crap pile and didn't even know where to start digging to free the good parts.

So I walked away and let it steam for several months.

Except the good parts shone through. Every now and then, I'd catch a glimpse of something I loved about this story through the stinky stuff piled on top. They kept gleaming. Beckoning. Taunting. There was gold in there somewhere, and I would uncover it if I just started digging again.

So after New Years, and a much needed break from work - and writing - I finally did. I got up earlier again every day, the way I did while blazing through the first draft, to work on a new and improved outline for an hour before going to work. Muddling through the labyrinth of issues, how to change them and where in the story to incorporate the changes, has now taken me six weeks.

One and a half months. And I haven't actually started rewriting, yet.

My plan is to be done with the rewrites by the end of April. But I won't make the mistake of thinking I'll be finished honing by then. Nuh-uh, this girl learns from her mistakes. So I'll add three months to April for at least one more round of revisions after this current one. My new deadline is August. I want to start querying agents in August.

No thump this time, but do I hear the faraway sound of a giggle? 


  1. Now you know how I felt rewriting my "damn you Pia Newman damn you" chapter. :-) Let me know when you're ready for a reader and come back to Friday writers' group soon. We miss you.

  2. I miss you guys, too. In fact, see my next post on Sunday. ;-)
    Hopefully I'll have only one chapter of "damn you Jadi damn you", too. I sometimes feel like it'll be more, even after revisions... Ack! Us writers are never satisfied, are we?

  3. Good for you for not giving up! Get yourself some chocolate! Or scotch - however you celebrate things!

    I'm in the EXACT situation you are. Plotted the death out of this thing and still need to revise? WTF? But knowing there's a problem is the first step to fixing it. I just finished a chapter outline that includes Goals, Motivation, Conflict, Stakes, Plot Development and Plot Devices to help me see what needs to be fixed. (What do you mean I can't have the goal be the same three chapters in a row?!? How can that possibly be boring?) ;-)

    Nobody said writing a book would be easy, yet nobody said it would be so damn hard either. But I hope that by the end, both of us will have a book we're damn proud of.

    1. Yep, you're in just as deep as I am. LOL

      I agree on all counts. And just to add, while it's often frustrating and seems to take forEVER, it's still something we love to do. It's so satisfying at the end of the day to know you've come that little bit closer to The Someday For Real End.

      It's out there. I can feel it. ;-)

    2. You bet it is! And one day we'll toast each other on our successes - even if it is just a finished book.