Writing the Second Draft

Writer's Block 1

Writer’s Block 1 (Photo credit: OkayCityNate)

So, the first draft on my latest novel is 85,000+ words.  The way it normally goes for me: 11,000-20,000 words for the rough draft, followed by 40,000-60,000 words second draft, then 85,000 words final draft.  Um…I think I’m in trouble on this one.  Well, maybe not trouble.  But I am in for a lot more editing on this one than previous books.  Yikes.

As I’ve been reviewing and trying piece my brain together to attack the second draft, I’ve been doing things a bit differently than with previous books.  After all, this book is very different from what I’ve written before.  The story and POV is different for sure, but not overwhelmingly changed, but the dilemma of the word count is a new one for me.  The first 20 chapters are written in chapter format, but after those 60,000 words, I hadn’t come to turning point yet, so I knew I needed to just get it done and insert scenes and brief narration to move the story forward so I knew where it was headed.  The remaining 25,000 words are “short story” format, and very roughly written, with few actual scenes fleshed out.  Yikes.

Plus, after 85,000 words, I still don’t have the title for it.  I’ve gone through a series of about 5 options, and still don’t like any of them.  Should make it interesting.

Anyhow…the process I’ve been going through as I approach draft #2 includes the following steps:

  1. Revamp the outline
  2. Outline the book within the document
  3. Read the draft at least a half dozen times
  4. Combine chapters
  5. Cut scenes that don’t move the story forward

But, I’ve hit the wall with these.  So, it’s time to press forward and flesh out the rest of the chapters.  Sure, it means I’ll have a 2nd draft of about 150,000-200,000 words, but it’s time.  Should be interesting.

What about you?  Ever had a ridiculous word count for your rough draft?  What have you done to solve the dilemma?


NaNoWriMo Day 29/30: Validating the Novel



All right my friends, today is the day.  The final day of NaNoWriMo 2012.  Many have finished their 50,000 words, some long since, some just last night.  And there are many who have given up or “stalled” as one friend put it, days ago.  For those whom have finished, I congratulate you!  What a wonderful achievement!  There’s nothing like that “accomplished” feeling, right?  Especially with something you really enjoy.  And for those who are so close but not there yet…push!  You can do it!  That finish line is so close!  As for those whom have stalled, I still hope you will make an effort today to put in some more words, even if you’re convinced you cannot finish.  But, if you’re only several thousand away, you might do it yet…  I wrote 10,000 words this month in less than 4 hours one day…you could do the same!  (Here’s my post on how I did it…maybe it can be of some help to you!)

In honor of the ending of this fantastic month of writing abandon, I will press forward in my own draft, despite being well over the minimum word count to win NaNoWriMo.  I never did finish the draft, and never hit that key event/changing point in the story.  So, that’s my goal today…to end the month on the high note with reaching that turning point in the novel “Mistress of the World.”

And this is how I’ll do it.

  • Set the lighting to the right mood (scented candles glowing, a warm yellow-colored lamp lit without harsh flourescent lights, and just sunlight softly coming in through the window)
  • Have a giant mug of lovely tea to drink
  • Have lots of water available for sipping throughout the process
  • No internet while writing
  • Take a few, short, energetic breaks (doing some squats and high knees) between words, as well as some t.v. breaks to chill and stop thinking during
  • Play the perfect playlist to lead to that key moment of the novel (this will be some classic early 80s/late 70s rock, since the novel takes place in that era)

Oh, and something very important: don’t forget to validate your novel before the deadline hits!

NaNoWriMo Day 28: Feeling Connected

With Justin, one of the boys I “paint” each night for the show

Right now I am in tech week/production week of “Babes in Toyland” at my local community theatre in Florida.  And this is the first show I’ve ever done when I’ve felt disconnected from the rest of the cast.  I contribute much of this to three main factors: 1) I have missed nearly every Monday night rehearsal because of praise team practice at my church, 2) it is a huge cast for such a theatre–50+ people!–and 3) I play the narrator (omniscient personality).  Finally, in the past few rehearsals, I have begun to felt connected to the other actors and even characters (with some additional blocking helping with that in one scene).  I’ve hung out with a couple of specific people backstage because of our roles in the show (entrances and exits most affecting this).  I attended a birthday get-together last night.  I started doing the make-up for a few of the guys and boys.  And we’ve been hanging out together in the dressing room, instead of spread out across stage or throughout the house.  And it’s amazing how much better I feel about the show, simply because of forming more and more bonds as we near opening night this Friday.

And tonight, I have started to see some applications for these concepts and feelings for my books.  I realized that the issue with my NaNo novel this year is that I have very little invested in it emotionally thus far.  Of course, not all books will grab my heart as much as others, but…they should all capture my imagination through the emotional connections.  As I’ve been writing “Mistress of the World,” I’ve felt more like the omniscient being overlooking the plot, than a first person autobiographer…so now, I know why it’s been so challenging getting to the meat of story, despite being well past the 50,000 word mark…  I haven’t felt the emotional connection with my “cast of characters,” much like I have felt disconnected from my fellow cast members in “Babes.”

With that in mind, I look forward to putting in an hour or two yet tonight, connecting with my characters in “Mistress of the World.”  Can’t wait to get to know some of these folks better!

What about you?  What are some challenges you’ve face with plot-line, characters, etc. during NaNo this year?

NaNoWriMo Day 15: Playlists for Writing

The Best of The Monkees

The Best of The Monkees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5 months ago, I never would have imagined I would enjoy listening to pretty much any of the artists on my current playlists.  Of course, I never would have imagined that I would have written a novel about a rock and roll band, and launched a series of books following in that same theme (such as “Mistress of the World” this year’s NaNoWriMo book, and “Drop Dead Daisy” my other main writing project right now).  And tonight, my best friend and I were chatting about my playlists, thinking about the many jokes we’ve got over some of the songs, and the many games we’ve played of “Song Titles.”

And, so, tonight, I thought I’d share my playlists with you guys (and hope you’ll share yours back!).

For joyous and/or upbeat chapters, my playlist includes the following songs:

  • “Help Me Ronda” (Beach Boys)
  • Do You Wanna Dance?” (Beach Boys)
  • “I’m a Believer” (Monkees)
  • “Roll Over Beethoven” (Beatles)
  • Da Doo Ron Ron” (Crystals)
  • “Love the One You’re With” (Chris Tart)
  • “Two of Us” (Beatles)
  • “Then He Kissed Me” (Crystals)
  • “Kashmir” (Led Zeppelin)
  • “Johnny B. Goode” (Beatles)
  • “Rock and Roll Music” (Beatles)
  • “Vertigo” (U2)
  • “Besame Mucho” (Beatles)
  • “The Face” (Accidental Charm, a DC area band)
  • Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (Queen)
  • “If Looks Could Kill” (Heart)
  • “Can’t Buy Me Love” (Beatles)
  • “Luanne” (Foreigner)
  • “And Your Bird Can Sing” *Beatles)
  • And about a 100 other songs by 20+ other artists

Emotional scenes have the following songs playing:

  • “Mystified” (Zombies)
  • “I Need the Rain” (Heart)
  • “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (U2)
  • “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” (U2)
  • “Gone But Not Gone” (Accidental Charm)
  • “Lonely Wind” (Kansas)
  • “Dust in the Wind” (Kansas)
  • “Fell on Black Days” (Soundgarden)
  • “Here Comes the Sun” (Beatles)
  • “Sanctuary” (Zombies)
  • “Anna (Go to Him)” (Beatles)
  • “Julia” (Beatles)
  • “Rain” (Beatles)
  • “Baby Blue” (Badfinger)
  • “Hey Jude” (Beatles)
  • “Spanish Harlem” (Mamas and Papas)
  • “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (Mamas and Papas)
  • “Rhiannon” (Fleetwood Mac)
  • “Psalm 139” (Fernando Ortega)
  • “Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)” (Chris Rice)
  • “My Place is With You” (Clay Crosse)
  • February Song” (Josh Groban)
  • “Broken Vow” (Josh Groban)
  • “Home to Stay” (Josh Groban)
  • “Table for Two” (Caedmon’s Call)
  • “Show Me” (Audrey Assad)
  • “Never Alone” (Barlow Girl)
  • “Place of No Return” (Mindy Boyd)
  • “Sweet Jesus” (Selah)
  • And, of course, many others…

What are your top five songs for your writing playlist(s)? Which artists/bands are most inspiring for you on the “fun” scenes versus the “challenging” ones?

NaNoWriMo Day 14: Crossing the 50,000 Word Line

Word Count: 50,018

I did it.  Just five minutes ago, I crossed the 50,000 word mark.

Of course, my novel, “Mistress of the World,” is far from complete.  Not only do I still have several rounds of re-writing, editing and proofreading to do, but I have thousands more words to write to complete the story.  And, admittedly, I’m still nowhere near the main idea of the story.  I have gotten into the meaty, emotional development of the characters, but I haven’t hit that moment when the reader knows “this is it…a great story.”  But that’s okay.  I completed NaNoWriMo 15 days ahead of schedule, as far as they’re concerned.  And that means I have fifteen more days to write the rest of the story without worrying about word count.  My counting is over!

So, for the next fifteen days, I will spend my writing time in pressing forward, getting to that moment when the reader knows this book was all worthwhile, both for them to read, as well as for me to write.  I know I’m going to go back, cut out tons of the crap that’s in there right now, and add a lot of things to make it better (I already have an entire page of things to change and add in the rewrite!), and for the second time in my life, I can say that prospect excites me.  Me?  Really?  Me excited about editing?  Wow.  Things really have changed this year!  Does this mean I really am a writer now?

Your Turn:  Tell us how your book is going.  How many words do you have written?  What are you struggling with?  What are some solutions you’ve come up with to help yourself press forward to that 50,000 word mark?  What can we do to help?