Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I've Finished My First Draft...Now What?

Oh. My. Goodness.
I did it!
I finished my first draft and have printed out all 350 pages (120,000 words).
Better go out and buy a LOT more ink and a LOT more paper!
Okay, one trip to Staples and that's done...
Now what?

This manuscript is a result of a mid-life crisis I had last October. Throughout writing the first draft, I was consumed with the story, but wrote it down in such a disjointed and non-linear manner (index cards? Plotting? Timelines? Nope), its' going to be hard to decipher and turn into something that others might want to read...Others beyond my own family, who will nod and smile and say, "that's a good story" simply because they are my family.

Above: "Across the Tracks" - Reset

The first major problem that has made itself blaringly obvious is the flow of the plot.

Lack of flow of the plot.

To say I am unqualified for attempting to write such a difficult story with intersecting timelines and complex characters would be nothing but the truth. The only credential I have for writing fiction is my background in bid-writing for the medical equipment industry. While much of that can be classed as fiction as well, I generally didn't have to think past a paragraph or two on one particular item.

"What value added services does your company provide that sets you apart from the competition?" Well, that's easy. Our company will basically write anything in this space to get your to buy our product. Our product will give you wings....No, wait, that's Bulldog.

Funny how that popular energy drink gave me nothing but gut rot.

Anyway...How to fix the story?

Remember, I am an unqualified newbie that has no training in creative writing; I don't know the rules the methods or the madness (although I am learning a lot, just by writing). The thought of line-editing my 350 pages made me want to stick pins in my eyes....What purpose would fixing grammar and spelling have when possibly the entire scene needed to be rewritten?

I began reading about revision.

I read about the "10 steps to a turning your manuscript into best selling novel", I read how at the revision stage is where many aspiring authors throw in the towel and take up bungee jumping, cliff diving, swimming with the sharks or some other less insane pastime. "Revision will make you nuts", everybody says.

Well darn it! I am not letting one year of work sit in my shiny new 3 ring binder. Maybe it won't ever be saleable, maybe nobody will ever want to read it, outside my own family...But I will at least strive to make it something that will earn me first dibs on the Christmas turkey (large family - lots of teenage nephews). So, I am going to pursue this whole revision business.

I looked into online classes and mentorships. Too expensive. If I'm going to self publish (those Office Max spiral bound workbooks can be darn pricey!) I'd better save my money.

I bought books from the Writer's Digest bookstore....A couple of hundred dollars later and I still have not begun an actual revision. All containing good information that I will put to great use if I ever do this again...But I still have NO idea how to begin sorting out the mess that I created in my one year of madness.

Enter Holly Lisle and her HTRYN Course.

For less than $50 per month - I gain access to her madly popular (the first sign up in November filled before I could even click the link!) How To Revise Your Novel course and worksheets. In addition, I gain access to a workgroup and forums where I can cry on a shoulder, get helpful advice and gain inspiration and motivation to keep slogging along.

So, I'm giving this a try. Let's see if my novel will hit the shelves someday - beyond my own bookcase!