Tag Archive | first draft

ROW80 2012: Round 4 Goals

I’m not going to go into much detail about that long, unexpected hiatus I took other than that I’ve been stressed and having a lot of trouble these past few months, but I’m finally getting back on track with productivity, so I’m coming back to the blog – for now, it’ll mainly be to keep track of ROW80 and things related to that, but I’m sure I will go back to writing my tips and etc posts eventually when I get in the hang of things again.

That being said, instead of participating in the usual National Novel Writing Month this November, I will be participating in this round of ROW80, since this time around, it’s more than a first draft I’m trying to get done – this one is going to be a second draft to what I did during Camp NaNoWriMo, this time hand-written with each ‘diary entry’ planned out along the way based on that draft I did in June. You can read about ROW80 here. It’s essentially an alternative to NaNoWriMo that lasts a bit longer and gives you more time, along with the option of setting and changing your own goals.

That being said, it’s time for me to state my goals for this round.

GOAL:  Finish 5+ Entries per week

This is really exciting. I’ve never participated in ROW80 before, and I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to finally finishing this first book in the planned series. As much as I’ve enjoyed working on it, four years is a long time and I’m so glad to finally be putting this in the direction it needs to go. My break from it after finishing the first draft in Camp NaNoWriMo was one I really needed in order to get some new ideas to throw in this draft and sort of have the time away from it I needed to be able to be refreshed and excited on the project all over again.

Needless to say, I think I’m going to enjoy this.

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End of the month update: What I have in store for July

Summer for me, thus far, has been fairly productive in the writing front – I’ve finally completed my first draft, I’ve been updating the blog fairly frequently, and at least trying a little bit to get involved with the community of writers on twitter. Now that I’ve finished up that first draft and Camp NaNoWriMo is coming to a close, though, I’m not too sure if I’ll be keeping up with productivity. While my novel is going to be a bit on the back-burner aside from a little bit of outlining every day or so during July, I have other projects that I do want to keep up with, some work, drawing and painting, and I’d like to at least keep myself writing -something- regularly (aside from this blog, of course).

In terms of keeping up with writing, I’ll probably stick mainly to writing things for the blog and doing some daily writing on oneword so I can focus primarily on outlining the novel when it comes to writing. I’m planning to try to update the blog weekly on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays and do a little writing at oneword on Mondays through Fridays, which may or may not be posted here, considering they’re practically just free writing from what comes to mind first for a minute for me (although maybe a weekly post of my oneword writings on Saturday or Sunday would be nice, or maybe just one at the end of the month of the best things I came up with? We’ll see, I guess). I’m thinking I’ll try to mainly stick to posts about writing, from my tips and opinions to posts on resources I use for writing and why/how. I also have some reading updates in mind, if I’m able to keep up with my reading like I really want to.

That’s another thing I’m going to try to keep up on this Summer – I love reading and I’m actually a fairly fast reader when I work at reading frequently, but I’ve been getting too caught up in other things to keep reading on a regular basis. I think to keep up with this I’ll try to do a post at the beginning and end of the month reporting how I’ve been doing with my reading and what I’ve been reading in general. Since I’m reading multiple books at once, I’ll try to get about 50 pages in each of the fiction ones read a week, minimum, until I finish one of them. I’ll probably go at a more leisurely pace with the non-fiction, since most of the non-fiction I read are books intended to help with the process of making comics, so I’ll be reading it along with working on things of that vein.

In terms of things of that vein, I’m also going to be trying to work on a collaborative comic my lovie and I have been working on throughout this month regularly on at the very least weekdays. I’m hoping to at least get a rough sketch for a frame (it’s going to be a single-frame-a-page web comic rather than a multiple-panels-per-page one – sort of an experiment on our part) done per day during the week. I’m hoping to finish up at least the first chapter before we launch it so I won’t have to rush to finish pages to update on a regular schedule – however, if I do seem to slack from the blog every now and then throughout July, it may be because I’m working on trying to get significant work on this done, since it’ll probably be my biggest focus of the month.

While working on the comic counts as working on art, I also want to keep up with doodling and digital painting, so I’m going to be trying to work on those more during the weekends and free time, which is why a lot of what I’ve said above seems to be focused on during weekdays. Weekends will be reserved to relax and work on various digital paintings and concept sketches for them. Doodling is something I’ll probably do during both the weekdays and weekends to just be silly and avoid getting burnt out.

I’m going to try to update my other blogs, which are all more focused on my art and inspiration for that rather than writing, at least once every week or two, as well, so when I get around to regularly updating those, I’ll probably put up a page on here that can redirect people to those if anyone’s interested. Over all, I have a lot in store for July to keep me productive and busy, which is something  I need to keep up with to keep my mood from taking a turn for the worse too often and is essential to my recovery. I’m not planning on overloading myself or taking it all too seriously – breaks will be there when necessary, and I’ll be keeping in touch with ways to relax, be it talking to my buddies or watching things.

What do you have in store for July?

Buckling down on first drafts

The idea of finishing the first draft – or any draft, honestly – of your novel can be daunting sometimes.

Writing a novel isn’t ‘easy’. You have to go through a lot to make the best you can – several drafts, maybe some outlining, re-reading and editing, and so forth. When it comes down to really getting started on the first steps you’re taking other than thinking about it to getting it done – which could either be outlining or starting the first draft – it can be hard to get yourself motivated to begin.

I like to start off with a first draft that’s sort of just ‘winging it’. Pouring out the ideas and developments I’ve got in mind without really outlining it or following any sort of map for it – this will serve as that map later on. I won’t get my best work done in a first draft, anyways, and I’m much better at getting things down for the first time, I’ve found, if I’m not constricting myself to the limitations of an outline just yet. I like to get the story down and figure out the little things as I go, let myself and my characters lead the way through the story first, so instead of taking the time to create the outline before even starting the first draft, I like to reserve some time to create my mess of a first draft to get everything down beforehand as quickly and enjoyably as I can before going into the rest of the process.

Lately, I’ve been using events like NaNoWriMo, JuNoWriMo, Camp NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, and things of that nature to motivate myself to get the first draft done – I’ve only been participating for a short time, but thus far it’s helped me get down the first draft of a script for part of a graphic novel I’m working on developing the story for and the first draft of the first novel in a series I’ve been trying (and failing) to motivate myself to get a good first draft down for almost three years. Putting aside a month or so to get the first draft done helps me do just what I intend with the first draft – just get everything down, every development and idea I have for it, no matter how horrible it may seem, and not let myself go back and fix things as I go.

My several other attempts to start the first draft for this story didn’t work out because I kept distracting myself with editing and making every last thing perfect, second-guessing myself and stressing over making it perfect. That just doesn’t work for me, though – I need to be able to have fun with a first draft. I need to give myself a sort of playground to mess around with and figure out the nooks and crannies of my story in with my first draft. I use my first drafts of things to explore my imagination and my story, to just put down my ideas and give myself something to work from that isn’t an outline. My first draft is an attempt to let myself go wild and get every idea I have that I can get down on the story, well, down on paper (or in a document).

It helps me figure out what works and what doesn’t, and discover new things and ideas about my story that I hadn’t had before. Only then, after I’ve gotten them down in one big document with me and my ideas poured out onto it, will I go through and write an outline for the story, adding, subtracting, and changing what I need to that I can use for my next draft, one that I’ll take more time and thought for. My outlining and rewriting process are things that I will be writing posts on eventually as I tackle those things with my current projects.

The first draft definitely won’t be perfect, and I need an opportunity to let the story go wild on it’s own, to wing it and explore my ‘playground’ before I go into the rest of the process and take the time to put down a comprehensive outline. While I try to make it the best I can, I also try to make it as enjoyable and close to the ideas I have in my head as I go along with it as possible.

To get my first draft done, I remind myself frequently that it will not be perfect and is my way to get things down and have something to work from – you can’t edit a blank page, but that doesn’t mean that the page you edit has to be perfect – it just means you need to get everything down first. 

Camp NaNoWriMo: Crossing the Finish Line

Final word count: 50,214 words in total

This is basically the first event of this nature that I’ve ‘finished’ – although during my participation in Script Frenzy I did complete the draft of the script, but it was much less than what was needed to ‘win’ – and it’s a very exciting, accomplished feeling. Not only was I finally able to get down a good first draft to go from for a story I’ve been trying to get down as I want it to be for years, I was able to participate in a fun event and make a lot out of the communication and advantages that come with it, and complete the challenge. Pushing through the last paragraphs I needed to get to the total that night, I did have a lot of trouble with – but I was determined to make it through to the 50,000th word on the draft that night.

I’d already written a bit that day, earlier on, trying to get into the ‘zone’ and figure out a good word count, and I needed only about 2k more to finally make it to 50k. I was at a scene that I hadn’t intended to put in, but it just came as an advantage to me – it was something I could definitely write a lot out of. I’d decided to throw my main character a bit of a bone and let him have a good night, but not without a little trouble and definitely not without throwing in a big plot point that I’d been building up to from the beginning. It was a big revelation, and my character had a lot of trouble admitting it (it took him a few paragraphs of trying to explain things before he was able to just write it) even to his journal.

Of course, I’d been planning to make this one carry over the course of journal entries spanning throughout a year, getting to know my characters and their situation, but something about the way this scene had ended just felt incredibly right. It was perfect for an ending to this first story – I’d gotten to know not only my main character, but his family, his friend, the other characters involved, his situation, and I’d built up to this revelation throughout the story as I’d worked it.

Of course, there are things that I need to fix and change and the entire thing is going to be re-written (and probably a little longer) – there are plot devices that I need to weave in better and I need to put in some more information, and I need to fix the ‘time-line’ of most of it. I’d somehow made this draft, despite being over 30 entries, take place in a much shorter period of time than intended, and that’s… not really going to work well. I’m going to stretch it out over a few more months so I can give some more development to different things and try to figure out different things in the next draft. I didn’t set up for the first one to end at that point, so there are obviously some bits that I held back on and of course, being a fairly quickly written draft, there are a few inconsistencies and a lot of things I need to fix, but it’s going to be serving as a good tool during my outlining process and a good starting place.

Camp NaNoWriMo has been a good tool for me in finally getting the ball rolling here. I’m excited for what’s to come next – I’m going to spend July pouring over this first draft and working out an outline on it. I’m hoping that my next posts on writing and the process will be on either first drafts or making outlines and how I go about those two things – whether the first one that will come is going to be one or the other, I’m not sure, but I’m betting I’ll probably cook something up about first drafts before outlining. I’ve already started on that bit, but I think it’d make more sense judging by my outlining process to write about this whole first draft business first.

How is the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo going for you? Have you crossed the finish line, or are you expecting to?

Rewriting and Revising: Different editing species of the same genus

Horrible titling, I know, but it’s better than just ‘Rewriting and Revising’.

Rewriting and revising are often talked about together, I’ve noticed, but really, they’re very different creatures. Yes, they do have things in common at times – you may be working from one of your drafts, you may try to think about more details than you do when getting the first draft down that you tend to pay more attention to while revising, etc – but they are still quite different.

To revise is, to me, to modify something, to go in and correct or condense, to fix up the material which may involve some rewriting, but for the most part, you’re just, well, fixing up the material. Rewriting can be a part of revising, but it really depends on what stage you’re at in the revising and the material you’re working on – the idea of rewriting is different than just revising. To rewrite is to completely write it again – some things about it may come out similar or even the exact same as the original, but essentially, you’re recreating the material and probably altering it quite a bit in rewriting, being it in the word choice or the material aside from that, and you could technically edit it as you do this in some departments depending on what you personally consider revising (when rewriting, I do tend to pay more attention to my word choice and edit the plot as I go).

For me, rewriting is more enjoyable than just plain revising, but at the same time, harder. Changing scenes, ‘killing my darlings’ as it’s so often called, trying to even it out and fix it, and trying to use my editorial mind at the same time as trying to change things that need changing to my liking – they’re things I’ve not gotten used to quite yet. I’m trying to revise and rewrite at the same time, but still give myself the freedom of not trapping myself within what I’ve already got set out, to give myself the freedom of making what happens still what I like, even if I don’t like it as much as what I had originally planned. Revising is something I like to think I’m fairly good at when I feel up to it, to go through and find misspellings, odd word choices, choppy sentences, bad grammar, etc, that’s something I can do when I look over something a few times, sure, but changing the overall material to the degree I do when I tend to rewrite can be a little bit hard for me.

But I have to sit down and do it – I have dreams for these projects that I’m working on, and I have to remember that to achieve what I dream of for these things, I need to sit my ass down and work on them, even if some parts of the process feel a little slow and unenjoyable – to get the finished product that I want, I have to get through the parts that aren’t so fun. If it’s not worth getting through the tough parts of the process, then it really isn’t worth working on at all, is how I see it.

I’m not too sure on whether my rewriting and editing process is normal or not – I will admit that I don’t read posts on that often, which I really should, especially while trying to motivate myself to rewrite and revise my current project, so I don’t know much about the process that other’s use. I complete the material to edit – in this case, it’s my script from Script Frenzy, which is for the first chapter of a graphic novel I am working on. I wrote it out in a large notebook I’ve had for years in pen, so it’s a mess of scribbles and chicken scratch, and I rewrite each scene individually. Each scene has it’s own separate file, which I rewrite the material in and when the scene is done – usually between 3 to 7 pages, I believe – I go back and revise it to make sure I didn’t misspell something or make any mistakes, to fix up the scene, before I move on to rewriting and revising the next.

I like getting each scene edited before working on the next one, and while working on this, I’ve been sending each scene to someone to have them read over it and give me their feedback to ponder and fix up the scene some more if I feel necessary afterwards before I move on to another scene. I usually send every other scene to a different person, so all of the work of reading the entire thing isn’t just on the shoulders of one person. It helps me get the feedback of two different people rather quickly, giving them little bits and pieces of the story without giving them the whole thing, again, which can help see if each scene is engaging enough on it’s own and other bits and bobs of information of that manner.

It helps me to both rewrite and revise at the same time, editing like this. Having a sort of mini-audience, or beta readers, to it while you’re editing seems to help quite a bit, at least for me, especially since the two people I have looking at it are pretty big influences and inspirations for my work as of now. I think I’ll have yet another person look at the completed product as is to get an opinion on the whole story and fix it all up yet again before handing it out to the two current readers to get their final opinions before I buckle down and complete it to work on the other chapters/transfer it to art.

I’m sure my editing process will change over the course of working on this entire series (it will be rather long, if it goes as I’m currently planning), but dipping my toes into this way of editing tells me that the water here is rather comfortable and I may well stay in it for a while.

What are you guys up to? When it comes to editing as a whole, how do you get it done, and what do you think of using beta readers?