Since the last time we talked, dear friends, I have completed part one of my Secret Project (side note: who else noticed that I tend to write stories in parts? TANGO was done in three, this one in two. WEIRD.). It's a miracle! My very own Christmas miracle. The past few months have been full of indecision and barely any writing, so to pound out nine chapters in under a week feels really fantastic. I'm hoping to have draft one complete by New Year's, which I think is pretty plausible. Secret Project definitely needs some major editing, but I'm already seeing places that need work, and I've got ideas for a kind of sub-plot, so I'm not too worried. I've got my moleskine ready to go, and plenty of hot cocoa to ward off the chill of my sub-zero bedroom.
That being said, I stumbled across THIS ARTICLE on editing and the YA market today, and wanted to take a moment to reflect on it. There was one point that was cause for particular pause:
Try and give your first draft plenty of flesh. The more the better. In my opinion it is better to include too much at this stage than not enough. In editing, it is much much easier to cut than to add; to sculpt out of a mass than to try and conjure out of thin air; to discover the bones than to try and add on the poundage. It also has the advantage that when you just let yourself go in your first draft, all that pesky stuff that’s desperate to get out but is actually irrelevant will be unburdened by the act of getting it down, and it can then be flicked off that much more easily than if you resist it too much at the beginning. It’s also very liberating when you do get rid of it!
For the first time, I feel like I've done the exact opposite of this. This first draft is more bare bones than fat, pudgy Santa. As I write, I've been jotting down notes for scenes that need to be beefed up and expanded upon. The romance needs to be fleshed out better, regardless of the fact the chemistry is there. I have an idea for a sub-plot that could be interesting, and while I love my main character, she's a little inconsistent. I know the things I need/want to change, but I'm not allowing myself to do that until I've completely finished writing the first draft. I'm pulling a NaNoWriMo-in-December here, folks. I'm just pounding out the story so I've got something to work with. Because I'd rather revise than write a book from scratch ANY day.
This Secret Project is so strange in that the process of writing it is basically the opposite of what I did when writing TANGO. I outlined it months ago and let the idea fester, rather than winging it. Instead of writing too much, I've probably written too little. With TANGO, I ended up cutting a shitton from the manuscript, whereas Secret Project will look as though it's had a baby. Possibly twins.
But I like babies, so I suppose that isn't a bad thing.
I think the above article makes some very good points, almost all of which I agree with. So it feels strange to be doing exactly the opposite. It's weird to write a chapter, and as soon as I'm done, realize what needs fixing. Over the years I've gotten better about finding inconsistencies and editing them out during the first draft, which has proven itself useful time and again with this book. As my friend Susan advised, I've deleted a lot of filter words as I went along. So I think this first draft is in much better shape than TANGO was at this point, regardless of the fact that it needs a tremendous amount of work.
But you know what? I'm excited about this book. I'm excited to revise it and whip it into shape. Pretty soon my baby will be walking on two feet, and I can stand there and be proud. It's been a while since I've had that experience, and I won't lie when I say I'm looking forward to it again.