Sunday, December 11, 2016

Let it Simmer

I'm about five days removed from finishing my latest draft.

The whole process for Project 2016/Delphinus Trilogy has been, to put it lightly, a total freaking mess. Originally, I was supposed to be sending out queries around this time. Maybe taking a break from submissions to do another pass through the draft just to make doubly sure that everything's polished as well as I can get it.

Instead, the notion that my stand-alone was actually a trilogy hit, and now I'm back towards the beginning of the process. It's not quite square one, but it's pretty close.

Anyway, I've made it over the first big hurdle. Draft one of the first book is finished. That is a victory, though it can be difficult to feel that way.

This first draft is ugly. Like, really ugly. I'm not going to be short of things to work on when it comes time to revise. Off the top of my head, I know a character has to be dropped, a couple of relationships need more fleshing out, there are some alterations that need to be made to some of the opening scenes to work in a little more world building, and the dialogue and body language in the back end of the draft (around the part where I started getting tired like a kid cramming to finish a paper the night before it's due) need to be overhauled.

That's just the stuff that I know needs work.

One of the pitfalls of writing, particularly of writing so much of a story in so short a time, is that it can, if you'll pardon the cliche, hard to see the forest for the trees.

I'm so in this story. I've been building the greater universe for it for a decade, and I've been spending literal hours every day piecing this specific draft together for over a month. The world and its characters are ever-present. Bits of their history and their conversations wake me up in the morning and keep me up at night.

Part of the reason that beta readers are so important is that at some point, a writer needs someone who hasn't had the entire world of the story living in their head. I'm not quite at the point where I'm ready for an outside set of eyes to look at the story, but getting some distance from the story is still the plan.

I want to do a round of revisions on my own before I pass the draft on to anyone else. But I'm really not in the right place to do it--it's all too fresh, and there are sure to be important gaps and flaws that I'll miss.

So I'm letting the draft simmer. I'm taking a couple weeks to let the story sit. I'm not fiddling with or looking at the draft until the 20th. By then, I should have a clearer sense of what it needs.

In the meantime, I'm doing other work. I've got a short story for an upcoming anthology that I need to write, a second short story that I hope to wrap up and shop around. There should be enough to keep me occupied until it's time to dive back in.

And maybe by the time I look at the draft again, I'll feel a little better about it, too. Maybe a little simmering is just what it needs.

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