“The first draft is nothing but your ingredients. Once you have them in front of you–a beginning, a middle, an end, and all your characters–then and only then can you write your novel.”–Tiffany Reisz.
I call it my rough draft. Rough, first, whatever. I took a different approach to Battle Scars. I’d worked from an extensive outline for Keeping the Family Peace. This time, I just plunged in. I had a few lines on each of 7 cards on the corkboard in Scrivener. So last week, I finished pt. 3 (which is THE END)! (I think I’d previously mentioned I’ve broken this novel into 3 parts.) Finished!
ONE STEP FORWARD…
And you know what happens next.
TWO STEPS BACK.
Gotta love writers group and beta readers who bring multiple perspectives and their own writing experience into a critique. I love ‘em. Truly I do.
The beta readers just finished reading pt. 2. Writers group heard this particular scene, which also drew comments from the betas. Hence my 2 steps back.
Beta #1: the 2 main characters (MCs) reconciled too quickly after the break-up scene.
Writers group comment: are we near the end of the book? That reconciliation feels like the climax. (Well yes, they did. But no, it’s not. My thoughts, not hers.)
Beta #2: yeah, drawing out the reconciliation is a good way to keep the reader hooked
I’d considered this earlier and had not been able to figure out when/how/where the MCs could get back together except right where I’d place that particular scene. I had the plot lines for the rest of the book laid out – in skimpy detail – and it wasn’t happening for me. When I finished the rough draft of pt. 3, I still couldn’t see it.
LET THE REVISIONS BEGIN
On Saturday, I started working on revisions so pt. 3 is “readable” for my betas and for writers group. I was ignoring their comments. Oh, they lurked in the back of my mind. I almost dreaded the revisions to the early chapters of pt. 3 – I’d flown through those chapters in my first attempt to get words down on paper. I had a lot of bracketed notes, a lot of comments to myself on that early draft. Ch. 1 wasn’t bad, but I think I stared at ch. 2 for an hour before the scene gelled. By mid-afternoon today, I’d finished both ch. 1 & 2 of pt. 3! (Are you following all this? Bless you if you’re still here.) I thought they were coming along really well.
Then I went back to read my beta readers’ comments again.
RETHINKING THE LOVERS’ MAKE-UP SCENE
I re-read the scene. There was an obvious place where Henry’s & Stephan’s dialogue could be reworked. (Yes, folks, this is historical fiction with a m/m romance sub-plot. And no, it’s no 50 Shades. Sensual, yes. Erotic, no.) I skimmed the next few chapters, identified other scenes I’d have to change. Not too bad. Then I glanced through the chapters in pt. 3 looking for the right moment to bring the two lovers together. (I do believe in happily-ever-afters.) Was there another climactic moment there? Well, of course there is! At that point (3 chapters from the end) I really AM getting close to the end of the novel!
I’ll ready pt. 3 for writers group & betas with these new plot points in mind.
Life is good. How are you?
Keeping the Family Peace update: I just ordered my print proof copy via Amazon’s CreateSpace. I’ll be holding my book in my hands on Friday! With luck, it will be in distribution, available in print by early February. If you can’t wait, buy it as an ebook now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords (for other eReaders).