I’ve often said that you can’t write a first scene until you’ve written the last scene, at least not a final write. You have to know where you’re going to know where to start from, know what happens in the final scene to introduce it in the first scene. So now that I’ve written the final scene (not finished the book, I just wrote that scene), I can go back to the first scene and do some of the massive cutting and shaping it needs. I’m looking at it in several ways, but the one that’s most crucial, I think, is seeing how it bookends..
First, I forgive John McCain for Sarah Palin.
So I’m doing some world-building in service of the plot, and I need some more business names. In particular, I need motel and B&B names. Inn Fernal and Motel Styx (again, thanks to Lorna) now play a big part, and I added luxury hotels The Deville and The Elysian, but I need a couple more motel names and a couple more B&B names would be good, too. Continue reading
So after much cogitation and wailing, I have a plot for Nita. It looks like this:
One of the weirdest things I discovered early in my career was that a story I’ve been writing on a screen not only looks completely different on the page, it reads completely different on the page.
That’s why a paper edit is crucial. Continue reading
No, not me, I’m pretty chipper here, getting plenty of sleep, beautiful day, everything’s fine.
I’m talking about exhausting my text by rewriting. Continue reading
The process of moving from a discovery draft (which is just writing to see what the story’s about) to a truck draft (which is an early draft that isn’t great but is probably good enough to publish if I get hit by a truck) is mostly about deconstructing a scene by beats to see what the hell is in there, and revising that to what’s supposed to be in there, once I’ve gotten a good overview of the act or entire book. I’ve done about a zillion drafts of the first breakfast scene, but they were all discovery drafts. It’s time to get serious about this sucker. For one thing, this scene over 3900 words and for another, it goes nowhere. it’s an overwritten, wandering, bloviating mess.
Here’s the rewrite analysis:
Two of my least favorite questions in interviews are “How long does it take you to write a book?” and “How many drafts do you do?” And of course the answers are “As long as it takes” and “As many as I need,” which is no help to anybody. I think the fastest I ever wrote a book was six weeks (Anyone But You). The longest? Well, if I ever finish You Again, that’s already taken me over a decade. I know there are people who do several books a year, books that people love. I assume those people get a head start: they’re natural storytellers, or they’re obsessive about story, or they don’t care about all the stuff that trips me up that has nothing to do with writing a good book. They’re born writers. I was born to crochet and eat chocolate. But the thing is, it doesn’t matter why those writers can do that. I can’t. There’s no point in gnashing my teeth about it. This is the path I was given as a writer, and just like those speedy writers would not be improved by slowing down, it’s a disaster if I try to speed up. (Really, I’ve tried.) What helps me to accept that is looking at my process (as much as I have a process; that sounds so organized). It goes like this: Continue reading