Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Draaafft One!

by Stephanie Black

So I am now the owner of ninety-eight thousand words, including The End. I finished the first draft of my work-in-progress. Some of those words are notes and such, but in a first draft, everything is word count you can be proud of, including flyspecks on the computer screen and the paragraph my daughter added about a spy army-crawling toward an ice cream vendor. Okay, I deleted that paragraph. It was a very funny paragraph, but rather unnerving, in the sense that someone had . . . erk! . . . glanced at my work-in-progress, which is what I get for leaving the file open on my computer. I don’t like eyeballs—save my own—looking at my first drafts. It feels like “get out of my head!” Of course, it’s not like I’ve got people lined up to read my first drafts. “Hey, I hear you’ve got this story that needs tons of revision. Send it over, will you? I love stories with flat characters and a timeline that looks like a twisted Slinky.” If I ever get really angry at someone, I’ll send them a first draft. That’ll fix ‘em. They’ll need therapy to sort their brain out.

Okay, it’s not that bad. The basic story is there, and I’m pleased with it. But, obviously, it needs work. I need to do a better job of knitting the subplots together. The characters need rounding. That part I changed my mind about needs fixing, since it no longer makes sense. And I do need to figure out the timing. When I’m drafting, I don’t like worrying about exactly when everything happened. How many years has it been since (important backstory)? How many days have passed since (plot event)? Sometimes I just put an X in the file in the spot where a number will go. “X days ago, you tried to murder me with an old boot and a ward bulletin folded into the shape of a swan.” She dropped her Cricut Personal Electronic Cutter on his foot. “And now you say you love me?” (Note the romance thing: LDS audiences dig romance).

Locations are another thing that sometimes end up with Xs in my first draft. Where does so-and-so live? I can always figure it out later, if needed—I can just name it X for now. I’ve got a location issue right now: I’d originally envisioned two important story locations as being an hour and a half apart, but now, with all the back-and-forth the characters ended up doing, I’m thinking I need to shrink that distance. Of course, shrinking it too much might create other issues . . . hmm. How about an intermittent wrinkle in the space-time continuum so the distance can be shorter or longer, depending on story needs? That’ll work. When in doubt, make things up that are contrary to fact; that's my motto.

Anyway, I’m delighted to be moving on to the second draft. I love having a complete manuscript to work with, as opposed to a blank file. And the timing is good, because we’ll be doing editing on Cold as Ice soon, and it’s nice to have this first draft out of the way before shifting back to my other book.

Let the revising commence!

Completely random way to end this blog: Don't you think Sarah Eden's name is totally a perfect match for the romances she writes? It's a classy, beautiful name, and there's this wonderful Garden of Eden-paradise connotation. And don't you think Jeff's name is a great name for a mystery/horror writer? I mean . . . Savage! Imagine if his name were Jeffrey Rosepetal Snookums. That just wouldn't evoke the same kind of chills. Chills, yes, but not the same kind.


At 5/12/2010 3:33 PM, Anonymous Chas Hathaway said...

I love the random ending. Makes me wonder what kind of book you would have to be writing to use the name Chris Hiemerdinger or John Bytheway.

Right on.


At 5/12/2010 4:19 PM, Anonymous Jordan McCollum said...

And your name, Stephanie. Black. Because your books are dark and scary. Right?

Congrats on finishing draft 1! I have a hard time calling something "finished" until I do those fixy-things you mention. But then it's like draft 2. Or draft 1.5.

On Saturday, I finished draft 14,234,594. (It feels that way.) Still have fixy-things to do. Sigh. Talk about your neverending stories.

At 5/12/2010 9:22 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

You know, I would read your first draft, but mostly just so I could see what one looks like, and then read the last draft so I could see the how-did-you-get-there mechanics.
(Note: I'm not suggesting this is a good idea. How about a chapter? No? How about a paragraph about an ice cream vendor?)

For your location problem, why not push the two geographic locations closer together, but then make the transportation slower? She's got an old hand me down beater that's built like a tank, and goes about as fast as one. He drives a convertible sports car, but learned to drive from his grandmother, so he always goes 10 miles under the speed limit. (Hey, I'll get there eventually!) Or maybe there's highway construction. *cough* I-15 *cough*

Jon "clearly needs to write a book about magic" Spell

At 5/13/2010 9:02 AM, Blogger Don said...

Congrats on your draft. That's an exciting moment.

I'm with Jon on the distance thing. Construction and/or traffic is far better than space-time continuum wrinkles for stretching a 45 minute drive into 90.

At 5/13/2010 9:27 AM, Blogger Karlene said...

If we were matching names to genres, I'd have to write a cookbook (Browning). Yuk! I hate to cook. Maybe I'll just go with a pen name.

I like the space/time continuum myself. And while you're at it, you could throw in a few aliens and vampires. It could totally work!

At 5/13/2010 11:40 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thanks, everyone :)

Jon, you're a brave man. Actually, one chapter wouldn't be too painful. The writing wouldn't be as polished as the final draft, but on its own, it would make sense, more or less. It would take a little longer before you started going "huh?"

Construction and granny drivers. Awesome.

Karlene, if you don't want to write a cookbook, you could do a beach book that involved a lot of sunbathing . . . :)

At 5/13/2010 1:55 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

I shall now think of Jeff as Snookums every time I see him ...

My husband typed "I love you, sweetie. XOXOXOXO" right before I printed the file for my readers. Yeah, my readers teased me about that one for a long time ...

Family members should just know that files are no touchy.

At 5/13/2010 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5/15/2010 9:39 PM, Blogger Anna Maria Junus said...

I like the name Snookums. Hey Lemony Snicket got away with a wierd name.

It would be interesting to see the difference between the first and last draft.


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