As I ease myself back into fiction writing, I am trying to make some changes and adapt the way I’ve done things in the past. A few examples that I have mentioned recently:
- Write the first and second drafts longhand.
- Mark up those drafts and add my notes in longhand as well
- Write the third draft on the computer.
I used to do everything on the computer. But I like the quiet of a pen on paper in those early drafts, when I’m still trying to figure things out.
Another thing I used to do is try to get through a story to the final draft in a relatively uninterrupted sweep. That is, once I started working on a story, I wouldn’t stop until I had the final draft. That sometimes resulted in final drafts that weren’t all that good because I rushed them, or didn’t have them entirely figured out, but I had the draft done, so the story went out for submission.
This time was different. I began writing the third draft of the story on June 15 and finished it a week later. Then I spent three days just reading what I wrote and made lots of notes. By the time I’d done that I felt that the story had problems. The first half was pretty good, but the second half still needed a lot of work. I sent the draft to my friend Michael for feedback. His feedback was perfectly aligned with my own. What do to?
In the past I would have tried to brute force my way through the next draft, but as I still am trying to figure things out, I didn’t think that would work. Instead, I have decided to stick the draft in a drawer for a while and allow it to percolate in the back of my mind until something comes up. Something usually does. In the meantime, I don’t want to lose momentum on this new writing phase, so this morning, I began (in that same notebook), the first draft a new story. This one is likley to be longer than the first, which means that by the time I finish the draft, I might just be ready to return to the first story and maybe know how to make it work.
Fiction writing has always been hard work for me. It may not seem difficult to sit down with a notebook and scribble away, but the physical act of writing is the easiest part. The difficult part, for me, is figuring out what the story is about, who’s telling the story, capturing the voice, hooking the reader and keeping them interested through the end, and then delivering an ending that is worthwhile. But it is fun work, too.
Written on June 27, 2022.
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