Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to host last week’s #wipmadness and be on vacation in New York at the same time. (When our tour boat stopped in the Hudson Bay to let off a seasick passenger, I pulled out my phone and approved a few comments.)
But now it’s back to the real world, and with it came the editorial letter for my second book. That got me thinking of the many rounds of revision, and the rounds within each revision, like some intricate clockworks, that we as writers undertake. Since many of us seem to get the most juice from wipmadness when we’re riding through those first few waves that yield a completed (if not finished) manuscript, I thought I’d share mine.
0th draft: Figure out a rough plot line using references such as Save the Cat, an eight-point screen structure, scribbles on napkins, nine-block story grid, whatever helps me get started with the story.
1st draft: Get the story down on paper. No matter what, keep writing. Just get to the end. During the first fifty pages of the draft, I’m concurrently working on the synopsis/outline to figure out the overall plot as I use the first pages to work out the voice and characters. If plot lines, character names, whatever changes along the way, I just keep going. By the time I get to the end of the first draft, I have a huge mess on my hands. But there’s a story there. Somewhere.
2nd draft: Clean up the mess. Make sure the plot progresses logically from beginning to end. (And fix those character names.) As you can imagine, lots of stuff gets written, trashed and rewritten at this stage.
3rd draft: This is where the revision fun really begins. Examine each chapter for pacing, character goals, and opportunities for plants and payoffs. Now that I really know the characters and story, I add telling details and look for ways to evoke emotion.
4th draft: Polish it up enough for human consumption.
At this point I’m ready to show it to critique partners or my agent or editor, depending upon what kind of deadline I’m working under. Using their feedback, I go back in rounds of three: macro changes, line edits, polishing, getting feedback after each polishing stage until it’s done. Whew!
How about you? Is your process similar? Where are you now with your WIP?
All this talk of cleaning stuff up in my drafts has me wanting to clean out my bookshelves as well. So, for this week’s giveaway, the commenter whose name is drawn can choose from one of these fine books (I’ve tried to include a good mix of fiction and craft so hopefully there’s something to appeal to everyone.):
Make a Scene – Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan E. Rosenfeld
Hooked – write fiction that grabs readers at page one and never lets them go by Les Edgerton
Spilling Ink: A young writers handbook by Anne Mazer & Ellen Potter
The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron
A Writer’s Guide to Fiction by Elizabeth Lyon
101 Things I learned in Film School by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick
Blood Ninja by Nick Lake
The Mermaid’s Mirror by L.K. Madigan
Morpheus Road: The Light by D.J. MacHale
drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve
Requiem for the Devil by Jeri Smith-Ready
The Knife that Killed Me (ARC) by Anthony Megowan
And the winner from week one is: L.S. Taylor! Please email your address to me at jamr88 (at) gmail (dot) com, and let me know what craft or inspirational book you’d like me to order.