On the bright side, I finished Script Frenzy.

I finished Script Frenzy yesterday, though I didn’t mention it thanks to the much more important Tornado Hell. The script still needs two or three more scenes before it’s finished, but they’re scenes that are mostly unchanged from the book. If inertia kicks in, I won’t feel too bad.

This is the first year I’ve finished Script Frenzy before the last day, which is a personal accomplishment. Last year I mostly stayed on track for the whole month, despite writing a musical, but I played the catchup game all the years before that. This year I bounced between falling behind and getting ahead, and the final push to the finish resulted in my cruising through the last fifteen pages.

The big lesson I’ve learned this year: No more adaptations. The idea was great in theory. I was going to use a screenplay to outline the next version of my novel, and I’d use the screenplay to fill in holes in the story. What I really wound up doing was writing some of the scenes that haven’t been written yet and then adapting what I had already written. Oops. While the script tells a story, there are huge holes from new scenes I wrote in the beginning and never developed later thanks to my development of old scenes.

Some good did come out of the adaptation. I got to see my book in a new light. Some scenes in books don’t adapt well to movies, like those with one person doing a lot of thinking. I had a lot of those scenes in the first draft, probably from writing so quickly and figuring out what should come next. Many of those scenes will be cut, but some are important, like a scene where a character is taking in a lot of information while alone. We’ll see what happens to it later, but it stands for now. My rule of thumb was “If it’s boring in the book, it’s definitely boring in the movie.” And if it’s boring in the movie, I can skip the effort and not include it.

What happens next? I’ve been challenged to write something in exactly 1667-word increments for May, meaning I should figure out an idea for that. There are a few ideas bouncing around my mind right now, but I want to save them for NaNoWriMo or the Three-Day Novel weekend. I have time to figure this out, right?

On the editing front, I know that major changes will be happening to both the pumpkin novel and the alternate worlds novel, so it’s probably time to sit down and think my way through the books before sitting down and writing yet another crappy draft. That’s right. I have to face The Outline. Everyone has to face it eventually. May it not consume my soul.

Operation Rewrite: Complete

I finished the rewrite of my novel today. Two Mondays ago when I told myself that the rewrite of the novel would be finished by the end of March no matter what, I figured I’d be stumbling across the finish line on the 31st with just a few hours to spare, especially at my pace toward the end.

Then came the days where I had a lot of prewritten scenes from the first draft that could be entered in the new novel with just a few changes, or the days where the scenes that wrote themselves, or the days where I was lucky enough to have both of these. This was probably why my NaNoEdMo hours increased more slowly toward the end.

There were also the days when I would fall asleep at the keyboard, play with my hair and notice that I was losing hair while writing, and wonder why I was rewriting a piece of crap into another piece of crap in the first place. That’s what the second draft is for. The first draft is to get the story on the paper. The second draft, no matter how much or how little it resembles the first draft, is for getting the story in line. I think I’ve done that. I did a better job at it than with the first draft, anyway.

The second draft is shorter, probably because I kept running out of steam; it’s a good 20,000 words shorter than the first draft. When you consider that I will be adding more to this draft and that I cut 10,000 words between drafts, this is unsurprising and probably a good sign.

Let’s worry about that later. The next few days will be devoted to rereading and noting more things that need to change and planning for Script Frenzy, which starts on Thursday.

Woohoo, I finally finished a second draft!

Rewriting Revisited

Since I started rewriting my first NaNoWriMo 2009 novel last Monday, it’s time to look at progress. The goal was to finish the first draft by the end of the month. So far that looks possible. I’m at 25,000 words in the rewrite so far and just under halfway through the scenes planned. Over the next few days, I may speed up my pace, particularly in parts where there are a lot of scenes in a row that have already been written. The second half of the novel contains more of those scenes than the first half does, probably because I cut an entire storyline from the first half of the novel.

As far as NaNoEdMo hours go, I’m now less than an hour behind. I’ve been counting the cut and pasted scenes into the novel as words written partly because I can and partly because previously planned writing time got eaten by family members who don’t understand that I’m writing outside of November. Even though there are more prewritten scenes in the second half that will get edited later, there are also more major scenes that need to be written for the first time, and that’ll take up more time. I’ll also be writing a new ending and a new subplot in the second half. If those don’t get me to fifty hours and finishing, then preliminary editing shall begin. After that, I’ll start Script Frenzy and set the book aside until May.

Plans for the second draft

Those extra scenes are the hardest to fill in. There are scenes that should happen, but you don’t know exactly where to put them, even with a ready-to-go timeline.

That’s where I am right now with my editing. Several scenes showing the fallout of the inciting incident should happen, but inserting those scenes in the novel and giving those scenes some sort of consequence to the rest of the story is harder than I thought.

It has to be done, though, especially since I’m hoping to start the second draft of this novel next week, due to be finished by April first and free to sit until the first of May. Yes, you read that correctly. Clearly I am insane. I will also be exhausted by May, which will give the draft a few more weeks to sit.

Besides, if I can write the first draft in two weeks with no outline, then surely I can write the second draft with a plan. This time I actually know the story, which is more than can be said the first time around.

NaNoEdMo: Day Six Update

Now that we’re a week into National Novel Editing Month, it’s time for a progress report.

Total hours logged: 8.5
Pages filled in idea notebook: 15
Pens sacrified to noveling: 1

I am currently an hour and twelve minutes behind, but I can easily add a few more minutes to the editing regimen every day. To be more accurate, it’s a planning and conceptualizing regimen at the moment, as I’m taking the novel apart and putting it back together in pieces that I never thought were possible.

For someone who is used to writing off the seat of her pants, this is a difficult process, but one that needs to be done. Looking at each aspect of the novel–the characters, the setting, the conflict, the story–and examining what needs to be changed, what needs to stay the same, the motivation of each character, through a magnifying glass has not been an easy process. Cutting several subplots has made this harder, especially since I have to think of new subplots to replace them. The idea here is that by doing so, the rewrite will be easier and of higher quality than my first draft was. Of course, that’s not saying much.

The things I do for my darlings.

NaNoEdMo: let the revisions begin

Tomorrow is the first of March, meaning that National Novel Editing Month is upon us. This is my first year doing it because in past years I’ve had nothing worth editing or I haven’t been able to commit to the fifty hours. One can’t sneak around fifty hours as easily as one can fifty thousand words, especially when writing comes easily. I’m going to be a bit of an EdMo rebel this year, though: while a lot of people will actually be editing their prose, I’ll be revising my outlines and scenes and characters before starting the rewrite, which may or may not begin in March. This is what happens when you write a first draft in two weeks.

Let the editing begin.

Revising check-in

The first step in revising my novel (and here’s where I admit that the revising has gone untouched for several days–oops) is analyzing each scene and its place in my novel. For me, this involves writing down each scene and the major action on an index card. Let’s look at the last scene I copied over:

#50
Tuesday midday, Dr. B’s office
Dr. B has a message from her mother
Dr. B calls and [Grandma–main character’s grandma, Dr. B’s mother] tells about the pumpkin
[Dr. B] thinks it’s ridiculous, invites Grandma to county fair
End scene, indicated by white box

This scene may or may not be important in future rewrites; I haven’t decided yet. My character holds his family quite dearly to him, and this is revealed as the story unfolds. Unfortunately, it’s not revealed quite the way I’d like, and the story moves quite slowly in part because of it. There are also aspects of the story, such as my main character’s interest in art outside of pumpkin carving, that show up and could be even more important if I make other changes that have been floating around, the most significant of which is to make the character a year older. This would make him a senior in high school and would bring up a lot more questions: the future, the possibility of this county fair being his last, whether he would want to go to school far away from home, whether he would go to college right away in the first place–all kinds of questions I’ve been able to skirt not just by writing a first draft but by making him the age that he is.

Then there’s the biggest change and the main reason I’ve been making these index card scenes in the first place: changing the timeline. More specifically, shortening it. This novel already takes place in a little over a week, and I’m trying to make that time even shorter, if only because pumpkins rot fairly quickly and my character is a bit of a pumpkin snob, despite not being much of a snob in other areas of his life. (Seriously, he snubs another pumpkin carver for using store-bought pumpkins for the competition!)

And I haven’t even started analyzing each person’s character traits yet. Geez. It’s a good thing I haven’t started revising the prose. That’ll come, oh, after the second rewrite, assuming there isn’t a third rewrite before the desire to edit prose kicks in.