Manuscript Monday is a series of blog posts which chronicle the life of my manuscript. It follows the journey I take to turn my week old baby story idea into a fully grown, polished novel. Take the journey with me. 🙂
My 11 week- old manuscript:
I think I’ve officially lost my mind when it comes to this story.
You’ve all heard it said that if you want to make your story stronger when revising, you must kill your darlings. You must cut out the parts that don’t serve the story, no matter how precious they are. That can include whole scenes or even a whole character. So if a paragraph is the most beautiful piece of writing you’ve ever created, but it doesn’t move the story along or assist in world building or character development, then you must cut it out.
Well, I may have gone overboard this week. I cut out almost seven thousand words.
And now, at week 11 of this manuscript, I’m left with a mere 1500 words.
I know. I know what you’re going to say. WHY?? Why would you cut so much out when you’re just trying to get the story down on paper? It’s only the first draft!!
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t feeling it. Those 7,000 words were okay, but they weren’t serving my story anymore. Not since I came up with my electric idea. I tried to work in my new idea. I really did. But I couldn’t make it mesh. I felt excited about the new parts and just so-so about the rest. So even in the first draft stage, I had to do it. I had to kill my darlings. FYI I did save them to another document just in case I change my mind. I don’t think I’ll change my mind though. This story is better without them—even if I’m only left with my original three pages and now four new ones. Yikes. I kinda feel like I’m starting over.
And this is exactly why I’m documenting the life of my manuscript with these Monday posts. I want to show you that writing a novel is not easy. It’s not simple. It’s not clean. In fact, most of the time, it’s pretty messy. But it can be done. And for me, for this manuscript, messy is how it is right now. It takes me a really long time to solidify and idea in my head. But when I finally do, I can write with the wind at my back and wheels on my feet. But until then, I push against a brick wall sometimes… until I find my sledgehammer—or at least a really sharp chisel.
Some people write their first draft with a bit of word vomit. (The brave writers doing NaNowWriMo come to mind!). They write and write and write until they have a completed first draft. They don’t revise at all as they go. They save that for draft two and usually three, four and five too!
Other writers write, but then revise those same words the next day before they can add to their word count. That’s me. If I write 1,000 words on Monday, I have a really hard time writing anything more on Tuesday until I’ve re-read what I wrote on Monday first. I need to see where I’ve been before I can go anywhere else with the story and in the process, I usually edit as I go. But as you can imagine, that makes for much slower writing. The first draft can take twice as long that way, probably because at the end it’s actually the second draft instead of the first.
I guess that’s why I changed so much of my MS so early into the draft. I wasn’t happy with where the story was headed. I needed to make a clean break, before I could move forward. That’s the way I write all my first drafts. Do you think that’s crazy?! Do any of you write like I do? Do any of you write a first draft without revising as you go? I guess there’s no right or wrong way. I think that whatever way feels comfortable for you is the way to go. As long as you’re getting the draft completed, it’s all good!
So on that note, I am thrilled with my story right now, however short it may be. I have a lot of words to write this week, but that’s okay. The clean break has given me a fresh perspective on the tone of this story and on my new characters. That’s success in my book, and more importantly, I’m excited to keep writing! So maybe I haven’t lost my mind after all. 🙂
How about you? What works for you when you draft? Whatever way it is, I hope you’ll get lots of words on the page this week…whether they concern dragons or misfit toys; a boy wonder elected leader of the universe; or a college girl hell –bent on saving her relationship and her school! Whatever they are, I hope they make the page sparkle!