Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In case you were wondering,

I haven't posted in a while, because I didn't want to let you in on my dirty little secret. But now that I've come to terms with it, I have to tell you what it is: I'm rewriting my first book!

I want to feel terribly embarrassed by this, but I worked through the self-hatred in a matter of days. Awful days they were though, lemme tell ya.

My go-for-it attitude got me in a serious bind. I've already told you about my rookie run-in with word count, so here comes another newbie mistake:

For my second draft, I fine-tuned the voice differentiation of my two narrators. For the third draft, I reworked a few scenes. For my fourth, I took out a scene, and I added one. For my "fifth draft," I've decided to rewrite the whole thing.

I'm editing backwards! Going from small to big! What the heck is up with that? But I'll still have to get back to fine-tuning. My revision process for this WIP is a mountain. I am my own Aristotelian Arc.

Had I been a reader of blogs before revising, I may have come across one of Natalie Whipple's endlessly helpful posts, like Stages of Revision or my personal favorite, When I go hardcore. I would've known that it is super silly to fine-tune something you might later scrap, but honestly...I should've known that anyways. I was plagued by the belief that my story couldn't change, that what happens is what happens, an ailment Natalie has also written about. Thank goodness I'm not the only one.

Won't I always have this problem? Won't I always be able to write better at the end of a project then at the beginning? Couldn't I just write circularly, chasing my wisening tail round and round and round 'til I've got one story that took one seriously repetitive lifetime to write?

No. I will resist the temptation. Too long word-count and backwards editing are not why I am rewriting. The real reason is because of my ultimate newbie mistake.

When in first-draft mode, I couldn't pick a genre. For the life of me, I simply couldn't get myself to stop saying, "YA Fantasy." Was my WIP YA? Or was it fantasy? I couldn't decide! I didn't know my reader's age or their favorite section of the bookstore. I teetered between teen and adult. Between YA and fantasy. My book teeters too.

When I finally did decide on YA, I had a third draft that read like bad fantasy. Not bad metaphor fantasy. But bad information dump fantasy. I know. But I just couldn't leave it behind. Well, I'm tougher now.

And so, I begin again. I'm doing it forwards this time. I've spent the last few months doing a lot of research about what it is to write a novel. The amazing part is that I'm excited about this. This time around, I know the story so well that the voices and characters aren't being as overwhelmed with the lore and conspiracy. The back story is staying where it belongs and the writing is fresher for it, just like YA should be.

I'd like to hate myself for this absolute ridiculous, but I don't. Its all experience. Its what I want to do.


  1. I love reading about your learning process. You are now IN your OWN masters program, not only studying how to write a novel, but writing a novel - well, writing novels. Thanks for sharing the process, I am learning so much reading your blogs.
    And keep them coming, okay? We out here need them.

  2. Dayana,
    I applaud your ability to want to do your best.
    This is art this is an expression of you. I would expecting nothing else from you. It is a gift that you are preparing for others & your giving it all you got! &&& Girl you got IT!!!