Tuesday, February 18, 2014

It's been a *head-desk* kind of winter

I am about 40K words into the first draft of Moonlit book #3. I'm not quite as far as I hoped I'd be. After steeping myself in the editing side of the process for months, is very hard to see the forest for the trees again. I over-analyze and tear apart every sentence instead of letting really terrible sentences/paragraphs/dialogue stand where they are as a plot place holder, to be polished during the second look.

I began drafting book #3 in November, and as of two weeks ago (when i was still busy inspecting every inch of bark on said proverbial trees) I was sitting, stalling at about 23K words, and I've probably cut at least as many words already. Now, as a disclaimer, I'm not a die-hard word-count girl. I don't set daily goals. Between my other job, two large indoor dogs, and my nearly 3 year old daughter, the only goal I have is to have a mostly-clean kitchen before I go to bed. Still, I knew I had a problem.

I recently read Stephen King's "On Writing," where he notes he typically does two drafts and a "polish" before submitting his work. And he's a Panster, to boot. I was both mesmerized and mildly devastated by this. I *know* authors all have different processes. But I barely know where I'm going until the third draft. Then it hit me: I am trying to figure out everything all at once in every sentence.

Yesterday, I was perusing one of my notebooks to find where I'd jotted those pesky notes for last year's expenses. I came across pages of ideas for Moonlit book #2, and from the date at the top, I knew I'd made these notes well after I'd finished the first draft. Some of the ideas were good, some were mediocre, some made me cringe. None of them made it into the draft I submitted to my acquisitions editor at WiDo. Not one.

I realized two things: first, that it's a-okay to come up with some really terrible ideas right now. And second, I've become more proficient at spotting and beheading a bad sub-plot before it grows legs and runs away with my main arch. As I imagine happens with killing anything, i have to grieve a little when I realize I've spent my precious window laying down 2000 words to nowhere. Select. Delete. Eat a cookie. Start again.

My hope is by the time Moonlit #3 is ready for beta readers, it will be in a tighter, tolerable place so they can dig into the sentences and conversations and help me chase those down instead of being bogged down by a loose, wandering plot.

Confession: this actually wasn't what I meant to write about at all, but it's apparently what was on my mind. I'll follow up with more on Moonlit #3 soon. :) So what are you working on? How's it going? What do you find trips up your process?