While trying my hand at teaching high school back in the fall, I spent so long away from my current rough draft, I forgot half of what I'd written. So I've been going back to read through it. In doing so, several issues with the rough have been jumping out at me, but they all stem from one factor common in rough drafts, lacking conflict.
Readers have their favorites, and they don't enjoy seeing them put through the wringer, but at the same time, what are the chances they would be so fond of those characters if they never struggled? No matter if your story is plot driven or character driven, without conflict, there is no story.
Remember how I said Icarus was going on the back burner for a while? Well, I still can't tell all the details about the massive project mostly responsible for the delay. Sorry. However, I've been asked to turn the back to basics grammar and composition course and the creative writing course into full workbooks for a local school.
Considering I've yet to finish writing the back to basics course and need to add lots of exercises, more in depth information, and additional articles to the creative writing workbook, you can imagine how much work this is. That's on its own without this other, larger, project I can't speak about at the moment. So I just plain don't have time to work on drafting Icarus right now, and I won't until these workbooks are finished and off to the printers.
Have you heard the advice about taking a break between steps in the writing process? As with many things when it comes to matters of art making, there are multiple schools of thought on the practice. Some say it's a waste of time. Others say it's essential. Some prefer short breaks or "pauses," and others believe anything less than months at a time is the same as just plowing through.
Personally, I hold to the pause method. One, just because that's the way I've always worked on an instinctual level, but also because I've learned I need those pauses to produce better work.
Writing their rough drafts exemplify love/hate relationships for authors. When the words come easily, and the scenes blossom full of life and color, it's exhilarating. It's a rush like no other. Other times though, each scene is hazy if you can see it at all, and the words dance just out of your memory's reach. That's when composing becomes difficult and procrastination in all its forms becomes tempting.
I've hit the point where Icarus becomes hazy. Oh, I have it fully outlined. I know what is supposed to happen, but it's all new territory. For most of what I've written in the rough so far, it existed in the old version The Writer's Hood printed back when it was still a thing, or at the very least, I'd worked through scenes in my head over the decade since the e-zine's closing. Having lived for more years and seen more of the world if only through documentaries and news broadcasts changed much of what I'd planned. The entire last half of the novel is brand new, which is just part of why I hemmed and hawed so much following reaching the halfway mark.
One of the most common things I've seen writers be asked is what their writing schedule looks like. Do you write at set times? Do you have a daily word count goal? Do you write every day or when inspiration strikes?
Each writer has a different answer. We're all different people, so what works for one might not work for another.
Still, I've recently made a slight alteration to my writing schedule that's made a huge difference in my productivity, so I thought I would share.
I thought I'd mix it up a bit this week by answering a writer's tag I found online. It just has ten simple questions, so this should be short and sweet.
1. What do you write?
A quick scroll down the categories over to the right of the page ought to prove I write speculative fiction. Spec fic covers a wide range of genres and their subgenres as well as mashups of those. I tend to stick more with science fiction, but I do dabble in fantasy now and again. And like with the Yekara series and the Myth and Science universe stories, there are times when I use both science fiction and fantasy elements in the same piece.
Fun fact about me: I work best with an established routine. This is just as true for my girls, maybe more so. When we have a good routine and stick with it, we have some really good weeks. When that routine gets thrown off, things go pear shaped fast!
Our usual routine looks like the image here on the right. We have our set days to meet up with our homeschool group or run errands. Every now and again we'll go on a field trip, but most days go more or less to plan.
It's great! I get some of the work I need to do done, that can handle interruptions, while the girls work on their lessons. This means I'm available if and when they need help or clarification. Then I write while they have their free time. We even do a few lessons together, because you should always keep learning, right?
You might have heard "don't waste your time editing" before, but make sure you don't take that bit of advice out of context. It is almost always talking about when you're in the thick of writing a rough draft. What is meant is, "Don't use editing as an excuse to never finish." Although it can be used as a method of procrastination, editing is never a waste of time.
If you go back to the tired old metaphor of writing a book as having a child, you can look at it like this. Writing the rough draft is like carrying and birthing the story. Doing the rewrites is like raising it. You're taking the "child" and molding them into the "adult" they will become. Editing is sending that "child" to school. It gives them their best chance at being successful out in the real world. Formatting, the cover art, and back cover blurb are basic grooming and hygiene skills you teach the "child."
New? Begin with lesson one.
You may believe you completed this step when editing, but take the time, and you'll find proofreading your finished and polished manuscript is still needed. You may be amazed at how many nit picky things slip through the cracks during the editing phase. Proofreading is where you go through your manuscript with a fine toothed comb to find all the grammatical, formatting, and spelling errors left in it.
Once again, there are no short cuts for this, admittedly tedious, task. Skipping it isn't a good idea at all. Modern tools such as spell check help, but you cannot rely on them to find all your mistakes and typos for you. However, there are some tricks of the trade to make things easier and maximize your efficiency.
New? Begin with lesson one.
If you can find beta readers you can trust to give you honest and full feedback, between finishing rewrites and beginning edits is a good time to do so. If not, I would suggest setting your manuscript aside for a week or so again before making a couple of read throughs. This will once again give you time to clear your mind and take a step back from the story, thus preventing your mind's autocorrect from overwriting the things you hope to find and correct.
The last time you went through your manuscript, you were looking for the big issues. This time around, you need to still keep those things in mind to make sure they were fixed, but you should be ready to start looking at the details: phrasing, typos, redundant text, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and word choice. These things might be small, but lots of errors sprinkled throughout your work can add up to a big problem. You want to clear your text of all the errors you can find. Otherwise, they can distract your readers from the story.
A. B. England is a small business owner, home-schooling mom, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves fantasy, mythology, and all flavors of science fiction.
Yekara Series Book 2
The Icarus Project
Rough Draft Progress
69061 / 75000
Myth & Science Collection
Icarus Trilogy Book 2
Yekara Series Book 3
Myth & Science Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Icarus Trilogy Book 3
Supers Collection 2
Intent Only at this Time
Yekara Series Book 4