So I'm almost done with draft 2 of my novel. (whew!) It's probably going to come in at about 80-90K words, which is perfect. However, it's still very broken.
Here's what I'm thinking I'm going to do next (even though I may change my mind halfway through step 1):
- Fix the structural problems which I couldn't see until I finished this draft (this process is SO inefficient, isn't it?) This will hopefully not be a full new draft from scratch, but just a rework of the second draft. I'll probably cut a bunch of stuff out, too.
- Add what I'm calling sets and art direction. My education is in screenwriting, so I tend to write just dialog and action and forget silly things like descriptions. I may also play around with the tone a little here - I won't be so worried about figuring out what happens next so I can focus on making it sound the way I want.
And then I'm thinking I might be ready to have someone read it. I know I can get readers here, but I also have some friends I might be able to entice into reading it.
Then fix it up based on their feedback.
And then who knows.
More experienced writers - am I crazy? Does this sound like a good plan? Are there any cool things I could be doing that I'm not?
Crit other people's work. Hopefully, that will make you more sensitive to mistakes in your own work and you'll see better what can work, what cannot and what can sometimes.
Posts: 303 | Registered: Mar 2006
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Sounds like a plan to me. If it works, great. Only you can decide that. If it doesn't work, try something else. It really is different for every writer, and sometimes it's even different for the same writer with every book.
Just go for it.
And look into the Novel Support Group (NSG in the Hatrack Groups area) which has an updated topic each week. Here's the topic ending today.
I've heard that before, that critiquing others is very helpful. My big concern is time; I'm stealing writing time wherever I can as it is. I'm so hesitant to take time away from that to do critiquing. How much time does it take?
Depends on how much you commit to. I do one crit a week at critters. How long it takes is hard to say because with a 3 year old, I don't have blocks of time or I am reading with Kai-lan or some other tv in the background (and sadly, those shows are enough to distract me). I would assume minimum 5000 words a story (or chapter), so like 20-30 pages. If I am not in the mood to crit, I just skip it that week and do 2 the next. I think they expect 250 words in a crit- which hasn't been much of a problem for me.
You could also read F&F and get some experience there. Though critting the first 13 lines is different then a full story since some things like giant plot holes are not going to be evident in the first 13 (though I suppose a really bad first 13 could have those problems). Of course, you can volunteer to crit the whole story based on your schedule. Hatrack does not require any set number of crits a week like critters does, so that might be easier when busy.
Critiquing has helped me produce better first drafts and achieve in one revision what previously might have taken several. An overall improvement, in my experience. Critiquing the 13-line fragments has also been helpful, the only limitation being that it's relatively impossible to see (and consequently, learn to identify) big picture problems in 13 lines.
Posts: 920 | Registered: Nov 2008
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If your background is in screenwriting, you might go over it and make sure your POV isn't too distant for what you're trying to accomplish.
This was a habit I had to break. I'd tell the story from the outside looking in (like a teleplay), rather than the inside looking out. I wasn't in the head of my characters, seeing the world, using all five senses, I was writing as the camera would see each scene. Which slowed the narrative, made it boring, etc...
I have to agree. There's no substitute for critiquing. It's amazing how often you see something in somebody else's work and then say to yourself, oops, I did that, too. It's just a lot harder to spot in your own, especially at first.
Mostly, people here critique as they can. If it's a story every couple of weeks or a chapter from someone else's novel every week or ten days, then that's what you can do. Just be sure you're clear with the other person on what kind of time frame you have available.
When I critique, I usually read through twice. Once, just to get the story. I'll mark anything really obvious that I see on the first go through, but I make most of my comments on the second read-through.
My critting depends on how good it is. A well written story will take me a lot longer to crit then an awful one. An story with big problems will usually only get one read through and then a list of the major problems with maybe one example (ex- huge plot hole when the tech does the tech with the tech, dialogue feels like characters are only speaking to share info with reader, etc). I believe the major problems need to be fixed before the minor ones can be dealt with. And one read through is enough to see the big problems. Though, when they have huge problems, getting through it even once can be a challenge.
If the story is mostly well written, then I read through a second time, getting much more picky. At that level, I'll comment on individual sentences or words that feel out of place to me. This level of critting takes a lot more time and thought, though I probably learn more.
Reviewing your own work first is a good idea. OSC recommends it, as does Stephen King, and pretty much everyone else I've read. When you have fixed all the stuff you think needs fixing, you should be at a point where you would feel confident to submit it somewhere... after all, you can't make it any better, right?
Then have people you trust read it. You'll be surprised what you missed. Just be willing to take their advice with a grain of salt. It is your work, after all, and you don't change something just because someone advises it. But, if multiple people start coming up with the same complaint (this character feels flat, I didn't find the resolution satisfying, etc...) then you know they may be onto something...