Saturday, September 18, 2010

It Felt Like Christmas Eve

After so much preparation, I eagerly looked forward to the day I had marked on my calendar to begin the first draft of my new WIP. That day was Thursday (9/16). I took Wednesday night off from any writing activities to give myself time to clear my head and rest up. That night, it felt like Christmas Eve! I was so excited. I had dreamed of creating such a collection of planning materials in the past, but never quite succeeded. This time, I went all out. In the weeks leading up to the big day I thought the story through forward and backward and mapped every scene in detail.

When Thursday rolled around and I finally sat down to write the first chapter, I felt like I was opening a wonderful gift that I had prepared for myself. I wrote joyfully, satisfied that I knew what I was doing. True, it was a little daunting at first, but I found it easy to resist the tendency toward perfectionism that can stall the creative flow. It wasn't about getting it down perfectly, but getting it written. My positive experiences in writing and editing earlier this year gave me the courage to trust my ability to write and polish. I set my qualms aside and focused on the scenes as I had imagined them, and sure enough I brought the story to life on the page. I really appreciated having it all mapped out for me this time. I could focus entirely on the individual scene, rather than having to wonder where things were headed.

I've completed five chapters and am working on the sixth one. I'll try to complete ten chapters per week but that may vary. I'll try to finish the entire draft in eight weeks, no more than ten. The projected word count is 95,000 words, but it will likely be somewhat longer. I don't want to exceed 110,000 words and can edit things down as needed. This story is epic fantasy, so the word length is appropriate.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I'm writing the chapters out of order. I considered several ways of approaching that and decided at least initially I'll work with one of the minor POV characters and write through all his scenes in the order they appear in the story. Then, I'll switch to the other minor POV character, and finally to the main character. This enables me to focus on each character's voice and how his perception shades the telling of the story. Continuity is not much of an issue at this point. I really did think through the details, and am keeping track of things well enough. I can also make brief notes to remind me of fine points for later editing but haven't needed to do that yet.

I'm also setting a new rule with this draft: it's okay to edit the current chapter, but once I declare it "finished" for the sake of the initial draft, and move on to the next chapter, I can no longer go back to it. Also, I will not read any previous chapter once I begin a new day's work. In other words, I can write a chapter in the morning and return to it throughout the day to edit and improve it, but when the next day rolls around, I can no longer go back to edit it or even to read it. I can only ever look at or edit the current day's work. This plan represents a compromise between the desire to read and edit previous chapters even as I advance to new chapters, and the opposite extreme where I never look back no matter what, and never edit anything until the draft is complete.

So far, the results are very much what I was hoping for. I'm thrilled to find it so easy to bring these scenes to life. The planning has not hindered that process. It has only helped it.

I'm not sure how much I'll blog along the way. I may put up a word count meter in the sidebar. You can rest assured I'll be writing steadily, probably every single day until the draft is complete in about two months. I won't stop until it's done and I'll finish it as quickly as possible while also maintaining quality.

Off and running,



Debra Young said...

Way to go, Adrian! You prepared well and it is exciting when the scenes blossom the way you hoped they would. Happy writing, d:)

Adrian Swift said...

Thanks, Debra!

Yes, it's working like a charm.

Best wishes for your own WIP,