Saturday, February 02, 2013

On the exhaustion of a finished draft

The draft of Ghoulish Happenings has hit an end. 75,000 words done, including a few edits to the first 10 pages and I am exhausted. Between the draft that failed gloriously in November [aka  a reminder that post-apocalyptic and me don't mix well at all], I've spent three months working on this story and while the sequel is niggling at me I know I need a break before I consider plunging into it in any depth.

(Which has not stopped me from writing over 2 pages of notes for it... *coughs*  Though today will be spent writing an essay to myself on magic in the world because I think I was horribly inconsistent with it and really need to fix that. Magic isn't a science per se, but a lot of the characters will approach it as one due to upbringing, which needs to be reflected more clearly. Also comparisons to computers should crop up.)

It's always weird for me to surface from a novel. Nanowrimo novels are skeletal drafts, ideas tossed up into the air. Crapped out, if one wishes to be inelegant. Actual novel drafts are for me 2-3 month affairs of ~1K words/day on average.  This draft took just over 70 days of devoting the vast majority of my writing to it and I feel -- not empty, so much as pleasantly exhausted. There are things to fix, but all are fixable. The ending needs work, but that's okay: I like a story that ends on a quiet note, with the characters moving on to the next step of their lives.

Not everything is resolved, not everything should be: entire plots don't actually connect to each other at all because I get cross with novels when they do. I know there's some stuff to beef up, things to fix, and I need to take a long, hard look at the character of Bryce again, though doing a short story two nights back that was set two months after the novel helped with that a lot. I need to flesh out Elsa and Hamish more, dial back on a couple of other characters but that's all stuff I will know going into the print/read through.

I think this is the first time in many years where I've had a finished treatment* that I'm happy with, and said wary happiness might even survive the read-through of it. Knowing what didn't work and what has to be fixed as I read is huge. But I need to do the print/read aspect before I start on that. In this case, I won't be ripping the story apart as much as putting caulking into it.

Things that definitely helped this draft:
1) I went into it knowing it would need fixing. The nano-draft helped a lot, in that respect. Going into a draft knowing there will be at least 2 major drafts after it is a huge mindset change. It helps that I've come to terms with the fact that my novel-writing method is: write draft, discard. Write draft, discard. Write draft, fix. With that in my head I should be able to go back to my pile of unfinished projects and give some of them a solid boost back into life sometime later this year.
2) I was definitely doing a sequel, so that influenced the draft in a lot of ways I probably don't consciously realize. In this case, it's being curious myself at what happens next, and finding out where Bryce and Wray go from here. Which is a fun head-space to be in.
3) Knowing that if I do more than two novels, the third will probably involve the MCs getting therapy during the course of it. Which is probably illegal in urban-fantasy series, but makes perfect sense.

Now off to work on figuring out magic in a more cohesive sense ....

* Drafts doesn't really work, given that the november version and the december-jan version of GH have very, very little relation to each other; i think I kept part of one scene and nothing else at all.

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