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Process

I don't quite have a draft yet. Much going on in real life that keeps interfering and threatening the mindset I must have to do this story justice.

But I'm still thinking NaNo was a success. I wouldn't have a draft ready if I'd done this the old way. What I do have as I edit is the solid conviction that I have the story right. The story doesn't change on me. I need to keep moving or it will. So I plug away, hour by hour, whenever I can.

Here's how it's been going...

First, I wrote the rough draft willy-nilly in November. I began the edit with huge cuts of places where I was writing my way in or just writing to keep writing. I kept the soul intact, every bit of it. I haven't deleted much, mostly I cut and move to a "cut" file in case I need some part of it later, so there's no feeling that I've killed any children.

I began to feel the shape of the final story. I worked through the draft (I've printed it out only twice) and made parenthetical comments about whether something was authorial issues or part of the story, whether it came earlier or later in the draft, whether more was needed in this part of the story.

I then found myself a bit daunted by the many moves required by my comments. This rough draft was really out of sequence. I found myself line editing the opening. That was wrong. Like a good paper, the opening will be written last, once I have the full shape of the story. I have it in draft, I know what it is, but the tone of it has to wait. So no line edits there. I stopped.

I wrote an outline and it was good in my sight. This outline has not shaken or changed since. It is Right. So that meant that I knew where the opening stopped and could begin my serious editing just after that, leave the opening alone for now.

To encourage this behavior, I copied the entire middle into a separate file in Scrivener, a subset of the main story. Another subset is the outline. This is not how Scrivener should be used, perhaps, but this is a short story. This Scrivener file currently contains ALL my draft short stories in one place. Very convenient.

I have stayed almost exclusively in this middle section that I dropped into a separate file. I kept reading through it and took sections to the right place, or what felt like the right place. I deleted parentheticals as I handled them.

I found myself thinking of the dramatic rise and fall of the story. I found that which actions, which dialog, went where was beginning to set in my head. I began a line edit at the beginning of this section, took it one scene at a time.

This went well, though it was slow. I now have two scenes that I'm happy with. A third is coming along. Suddenly, yesterday, I found myself daunted by the sheer size of the middle section and how much more I needed to work through. So I cut the finished scenes out of that file and put them back into the main draft. Voila. I have an area I'm editing that is smaller, less daunting.

So the process has been to get a rough story on paper first. Then to make lots of notes. Then to begin moving things and addressing the notes, then to line edit in the middle, working to the end of the story before touching the opening line edits. As I work, I work from larger to smaller in each scene. First on the parenthetical comments and moving paragraphs. Then as I read and reread the paragraphs, I try to feel the characters and how they would speak, which line of dialog should be the response, what they are trying to reveal about each other. This part is actually fascinating, but daunting. I can feel each time it's right and finished. Now when I go back and reread those paragraphs, I'm changing maybe one or two words. And I'm feeling when each is "done." I make no more changes. I make about 3 passes with tiny changes and then that's it. Overnight, I'll see I need a slight change. But no more than that. I'm not ripping up large parts of the text. I'm tweaking.

I promised myself some more time working this morning, so I'll stop talking now and go work. I'm hitting a really fun part of the story.

Frog Out

Edited to add at 1pm local:
My alpha reader read a scene and gave me about 4 nits to think about. I think that means I'm doing what I think I'm doing. Overall, alpha reader read the personality of character #1 correctly. I haven't let alpha reader see character #2 yet. She needs to be more of a surprise. Several people have already met Hoarfrost, after all. Onward, mush, mush, onward! Or "On, On" if you're a runner.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
safewrite
Dec. 26th, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
I have a large draft to revise and I like your process. I may copy it.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )