If you have been watching my word meter, I am now about 84 percent through 50,000 words on my current WIP, Dragon Boy. As I was writing yesterday, I realized that I am in the discovery phase of the writing. Once I have finished the first draft, then I will check to make sure that the names are right (I changed Elita to Evita plus I gave the healer and the dragon the same name– one of the dangers of being a panster).
The second draft is basically is a revision (not a rewrite or edit). The first draft I wrote the structure of the story. In the second draft I work with the characters, put in the five senses, check my descriptions, and plug holes. It’s where the story comes alive.
When I first started writing, I had this weird idea that I could stop at the first draft. Even when I write short stories, (Yes, I have written quite a few), I look them over a couple of times before publishing. So that I had the idea that a novel could be put out with only a cursory edit after the first draft– shows my naivete.
I can laugh at myself. What helped me to see things slightly differently was when I did some writing classes with Dean W. Smith. You can find him online. He has written several of the Star Wars franchise books and a lot of other sci-fi and fantasy. He and his wife Kristine Katherine Rusch are premier writers.
I learned some basic things from him that have made my writings more interesting.
- Write in scenes– One of my problems was I was trying to remember the entire novel in my head as I wrote. You can’t do it. The brain can’t contain it all. I have a great memory even after being on low dosages of chemo since 2003. So break up the story in scenes.
- Use five senses– It is when we ground the reader into the world that they become engrossed in our characters.
- Everything is seen through the eyes of the character– once again when you describe a town, street, home or room you are seeing it through the eyes of one person. He will see different aspects of the room than say,– his friend.
- Don’t be ambiguous– I really like to use pronouns… but sometimes a reader can get lost in the hes and shes. Sometimes it is better to say the character’s name than to use a pronoun.
- Put in Twists– It is the downs as well as the ups that makes a story interesting. 3-5 twists per short story and for novels, when your character is standing around and saying “so what do we do next?” then you are long overdue for a twist.
So editing is for finding these problems and solving them before a reader reads. There is a lot to writing that if I had a clue, I might have found another avocation. However, I am now caught in its web. Plus I am as curious as the next reader about what happens to Hilda, Davi, and Michael.