Monday, August 5, 2013

Act I Breakdown

Damn, it feels good to get that out of the way. Not that I had much in the way of difficulty writing this story--I'm just a lousy, no-good, low-life, snake-licking procrastinator and have a deep-seated fear of finishing projects. Apparently. Seriously, I'm awful about it.

Anyhow,  I'm pretty excited about getting to redraft this story, just in case it's not abundantly clear from all the raving about it here on the blog. I have some definite ideas about where I want to go with the next draft and where the story needs to go over the next act.

Before I go on, though, I need to tighten down the first section and there's some preparation I need to make before it makes a whole lot of sense to continue on.

Redrafting is one of those ugly things that everybody needs to do. Very rarely do first drafts come out complete enough for public consumption, at least for me. I'm not one of those writers who can grind out fully-formed stories on first blush, dispensing wisdom like some kind of 1920's stock ticker.

I see a first draft as sort of a more formalized version of brainstorming. I'm just dumping words on the page. There's all sorts of rough bits. Some sections sound good when read aloud until you stop and realize none of it makes any sense within the plot. Other sections fit the plot but read like I was having a stroke when I wrote it.

There are beats within the rough draft which are placeholders just screaming to be fleshed out further. Perhaps a throwaway line hidden in the middle of some paragraph on the dusty trailing end of some side-exposition is begging to be blown up into a full chapter. Maybe there are places that go on far too long, or just flat out don't work at all.

You look through it on a cold clear morning when you're objective enough to hate the world and you throw out the stuff that doesn't work, build more stuff you hope does. You give it a few passes, then you put it aside again, come back to it sideways, trying to trick your brain. Then you release it into the world, let someone else give it a go.

Eventually, you decide it's good enough. At least for me, nothing's ever perfect. I just hit a line where it's 90% good and call it quits, with the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I could still make it better.

I've got a whole lot of work to do on this. Part of my next step is to break it into actual chapters. Do some outlining. Set up a timeline for reasons which will be evident if you read the last installment all the way to the end. Make careful character/location notes. And then print the whole shebang out and then get brutal about ripping out things which don't need to be there.

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