Sunday, April 29, 2012

Breakups, Makeups, and Anniversaries

A Cactus Patch... At Night... Sort of.
By smackbabe on Deviant
April 26th, 2012 marked the First Anniversary of finishing the first draft of the Night Stalker. Can I get a what, what?! Okay... Maybe not. And, since I cannot remember when I actually started writing the Night Stalker, I am also calling April 26th the day I started writing TNS. So, April 26th is both a First Anniversary and an Eighth Anniversary for me. Since April 26th, 2012, I have rewritten the Night Stalker once and I am working on my Third Draft. I think that the Third Draft might be the one! In this year, I have learned that there is no one way to revise 400 pages of awesomeness, that revising is a messy and complicated process, and that revising is like trying to find your way through a cactus patch... In the dark... Without a flashlight. 

This whole thing has gotten me thinking about breakups and makeups.

My Plot Board
The Whole Plot for the Night Stalker Laid
Out On Pretty Notecards
Eight years ago, roughly, I sat down and wrote the first fifty pages of the Night Stalker. Everything was going great until I hit page fifty. Things started falling apart and all of the excitement from starting out vanished. The Night Stalker and I happily broke up. I respectfully put the Night Stalker behind me in a dusty drawer for five years. In May of 2009, if I remember correctly, I went searching through my thirty plus notebooks of old, unfinished stories, just looking for something to work on. Something that might be salvageable. What I found was the Night Stalker. And, TNS was brilliant. The Night Stalker and I made up and started racing for The End. Over the next two years (Minus two NaNoWriMos) I scratched out 408 more pages of glorious crap. This crap ended with: "Yes," Hamilton watched the flames leap below in the courtyard, hungry for more. The charred skull of his father smiled at him. Hamilton smiled, "Yes... We'll kill them all." THE END 4/26/11 Oh, the drama.

You see? Sometimes breaking up and making up can be a good thing. Sometimes, writers have to put things away for a while, or in other words, break up with their work. In the time that the writer and the work are separated, both mature a little, the brilliance comes back, and the passion and excitement start to return. New ideas sneak forward and a stronger story that demands to be written rises out of the depths of imagination.

There is a piece of advise from Gail Carson Levine that she puts into her book Writing Magic. Levine gives the advise to keep everything you ever write for at least fifteen years. Once fifteen years passes, you have the choice to throw out that writing or to keep it. Following this advise keeps potentially amazing writing from being thrown out and lost forever.

“A novel rough draft is like bread dough; you need to beat the crap out of it for it to rise.” -Chris Baty


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