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New Year, New Process!

I know, we’re actually a few weeks into the New Year, but that’s OK. A writer is never early or late, he writes exactly when he means to. (No, that doesn’t sound quite write right.)

I didn’t do a NaNoWriMo 2023 wrapup post, though I meant to. I wanted to talk about what I tried. (I wrote 137,000+ words! That’s wild! And I didn’t wreck my wrists!)

One thing I’ve noticed in revising stuff is that one part of the process is to tear the completed(ish) narrative draft apart and then reassemble it. It never quite comes together, it’s missing pieces, and quite a bit has to be reworked for what’s there to fit.

The process of destroying the story hurts, every time. Even though I know I still have the old draft saved off. The disassembly and looking at just the pieces adds a painful threshold to get over. I hate this part. I really do.

When I’m drafting a first draft, it’s great. Every time I sit down, it’s bigger, more, better, longer, and heading toward a conclusion.

When I’m revising, there’s this whole period in which every time I sit down, it’s worse. I know it’ll eventually be better, but when I finish the session, it’s worse. And that drags on far, far too long, and it’s a whole new drag on my motivation.

I did something wild in November. I wrote arcs. Beats in arcs I knew the story needed, scenes that appealed to me. Interactions I wanted to see. I didn’t write a story, I wrote the raw material from which a story can be assembled.

I don’t have a first draft out of it. Not yet. I have a huge pile of raw material. See, I’m trying to trick myself, in a way. I’m skipping the “tear the old draft into pieces” step. I’m starting with it all in pieces! Haha! See? I tricked myself!

One part was wildly freeing, though. I wasn’t constrained to a given narrative. I didn’t worry if it fit, I could write the things I wanted to. I’ll find the actual core of the story later. I was wildly productive.

(Also, let me just note, that’s about 80k on the main story, 20k on a spin off novella, 5k of miscellany, and the balance is the first 1/3 to 1/2 of a different story that may or may not be a different book in that series — the joys of writing something episodic. So that’s not almost 140k of one book.)

Anyway. It’s in another series (which will go out under another pseudonym, if it becomes A Thing), and I’m deep in revisions on book 1. Which was not the 2023 NaNoWriMo project (it was actually book 5, though 3 & 4 are barely vague concepts). Now that I’ve got later books sketched out, I have the world-building to work on 1, and I’m doing something similar. I’ve picked the arcs, and I’m writing new scenes, and pulling scenes from the existing draft, to fill them out. Once I have a large enough pile, I’ll shape it into a story.

If I get a real book out of it, I’ll try this process on a few other things, too. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to finished books some day!

Happy writing!

Published inWriting