New Beginnings: Sure, we've had a draft, but what about second draft?
Another week, another goal met! I finished the read through and the first edit of the new novel! Progress is being made. If there's one thing I've learned over the course of the writing journey so far, you have to celebrate the small steps, because if you spend too much time looking at the big picture you'll end up overwhelmed. Sometimes, even if you stay focused on the small steps, they can overwhelm you themselves.
The edit process of this novel has been exciting. When I finished the draft, I already knew that there were things in the book that needed changed. Elaborated. Reworked completely from the ground up. Part of me was dreading that. When I write, I try (to the best of my ability) to write as completely as I can. I very rarely, if ever, do something like [put some action here] and move on. If action needs to go there, I'll come up with some in the moment. I want to have as completed of a book that I can have by the time I'm done. Less work for future Dave.
With this one, I did that as well, and had a fairly well rounded story by the time I was done. Then I started thinking and reading and looking through it. For the first time, I wasn't happy. At the beginning, I knew I hadn't known the characters well enough to fully get them down on paper, and it was abundantly clear to me that was the case. My first few chapter notes consist of a lot of "Add more to this, give more background, spend more time with X characters thoughts". In this story, I feel like it's important to know these characters - really know them - to drive the suspense and make the climax of the story that much more impactful. I don't think I've captured that, so I need to focus on that going forward.
Then, I spent a day at work talking with a creative friend and coworker about the story. She's intrigued by the killer in the story, so we discussed motivations and backstory. Again, a major thing I knew finishing the draft was that his early chapters were getting completely redone, because I didn't find out the major motivation for his abhorrent behavior until very late in the draft. After the discussion with my friend - who I'm very thankful for, the way she quizzes me on things that I haven't thought about to find deeper truths helps immensely - the killer took on a whole new level of intrigue and depth. That's one aspect that I'm excited to go back and write, because I think it will draw people in. On the flip side of that coin, I now have the feeling that the main character doesn't have nearly the depth and development that he needs to make him a compelling protagonist. So that's the next step, discover his motivations. I have a good idea of what they are, I just need to actually translate that to story.
Plot wise, there are a few issues that need fixing as well. I tend to write short chapters to keep the story moving along, and a few are extremely short and make me wonder if they're really needed. A few things happen along the course of the story that seem to come from nowhere (because they did) with no explanation as to why. The romance seems to develop very quickly, which is partially due to the fact that it develops during a time skip over the course of a chapter. It needs more foundation. Not to mention the MASSIVE plot hole (not entirely a plot hole, more of a plot stupidity) that I didn't realize until sometime last week. For a laugh, here: this story takes place in rural Louisiana, bayou country, swamps and jon boats and water lapping at the sides of roads. Yet, as if by some miracle, my killer has a basement room that he practices his evil in. A. Basement. Room. The bayou basically backs up to his house, yet he managed to dig a basement? When that finally clicked in my head, I laughed out loud. Such are the flaws of the first draft. Funny enough, needing to change that is a blessing in disguise, because as his motivations grow, it didn't suit him anymore and the new direction it will most likely go in will match much better.
So now, I have a draft that's littered with note cards and scribbles waiting for me at my writing desk. It's ready to be molded. The bones are there, and now I have to create the muscles and tendons. Slowly but surely it will come together, much different than imagined in the first place, stronger and ready for action.