1. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    Wrote a rough draft, now I'm stuck

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cholula, Jan 20, 2016.

    Hi, Writers!

    I spent 2.5 years writing a novel, and I finally finished a first draft. It was such an incredible feeling to get to that point! I resisted doing much editing until I had the whole story down, planning to clean it all up later. But now that I'm on to the editing phase, I seem to have lost my momentum. The problems I left for later feel unsolvable. So much of it is cliched or corny. I know a first draft is going to be crap, but I don't even know where to begin. It's been almost a year and I haven't gotten very far. Advice?
     
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  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I wrote the same way you did.
    Decided to keep trucking along and clean up and issues later on.

    Basically, I rewrote everything past the first chapter.
    It sucked but it went a hundred times faster because I knew what was there and how I needed to present it better and what to add for foreshadowing, for characterization, for narration.
    I even added a few chapters and removed/changed a few to suit the story better.

    Just start again and keep everything in mind.
    Refer to the first draft as needed.
     
  3. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    As depressing as that sounds, it makes a lot of sense.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Been there, done that. Except I didn't wait two years to start the critique process. But no matter.

    Do not be embarrassed or discouraged. Find a critique group or meet the workshop requirements and post your work here a piece at a time. Set out to learn how to turn that draft into a polished piece.

    I just passed year four and I am so pleased with the work I've accomplished. Yes, I still have a lot of editing to go, but I feel I've learned how to write. I have more that I wrote earlier on to review and edit. But I have a good book in the works, I know I do. I don't think for a minute I'm fooling myself. And the reason is, I listen to the feedback. I don't worry that I need to learn more. I'm fine with knowing that.

    Take your story and grow your skills. That's what it takes for people like you and me. Other writers go on different paths. But this one is just fine.
     
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  5. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    I share my own method. Hopefully it gives you some thoughts and helps you forward.

    1. Take a rough look at your plot as a whole. Does it work? Enough tension, how's the pacing etc. Mark down your thoughts. Not too deeply, just a quick look up.
    2. Divide it by chapters, acts. Whatever you got in use.
    3. Analyze chapters one by one. Ask questions, a lot. 'What happens here?' 'Does it move the plot forward?' 'What this chapter should achieve?'
    4. Write up notes from the chapters.
    5. Does your chapter notes correspond with the plot notes you did earlier? Any new findings?

    At this point you should have much more clearer picture about your work. Instead of having these notes as thoughts, you got them down somewhere and at least to me, it's easier that way. On this stage, I use to put the work away for day or two. Let your 'subliminal workhorse' do its magic. Then come up and take the role of your character. Think carefully, does characters decisions and actions fit the personality you have created? How your character changes through the story? Again, mark down.

    6. Pinpoint the stuff you think is not fitting with the other. For example, did chapter 4 foreshadow anything that was about to come in chapter 5?
    7. Start writing the 2nd draft. Chapter after chapter. With previous work, notes and thinking, you should be able to improve the chapters and fix most of the odd little problems there might be.

    "Whatever the problem, the problem isn't the issue. It's your attitude towards the problem."

    Any obstacle in your life, don't take it as one huge load. Divide it into small pieces and work through them, one by one. If it was easy, everyone would do it. ;)
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's not unusual to have to completely rewrite a first draft of a first novel. In fact, I'd say it's pretty damn rare to churn out a first-first-draft that is anywhere near publishable standards!

    I know it's discouraging, but think of it as a very steep learning curve. Your rewrite won't take you anywhere near as long as your first draft, and the first draft of your second novel will be 10000% better AND much quicker to boot.
     
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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    A complete rewrite may not be necessary or even advisable, because if you do a complete rewrite, it will still need to be reviewed and revised, and that's a skill that as a writer you need to learn. You need to be organized about it, and fearless. Since you already know there are problems you've put off for later, start by listing them - actually writing them down. If you remember the chapters in which they occur, so much the better. Note that in your list.

    Print out your novel in a clean, crisp font (I recommend courier or courier new, but if there is another that you find easier to read, go with it) of a good size - 12 point. Make sure it's double-spaced with at least one-inch margins on both sides. Read it from start to finish aloud. This will force you to read more slowly and prevent you from skimming or skipping, and you'll catch more. Use a pencil to make notes in the margins or in between lines. If the notes are extensive - like a plot hole - just note that it's a plot hole, number it, and make a more detailed comment on a separate sheet of paper (with page reference, of course). Make sure you mark any and all SPaG errors. It will be slow going, but remember that each problem you find means that your work will be that much better when you've finished. Once you've done your read-through, go back and correct every error you've found. You may want to go through separate runs for each kind of error (I always address SPaG errors first, since they're the easiest to fix; YMMV). When you've completed your edit - plot holes and cliches and all - print out a second draft and repeat the process. It will go easier and faster.

    Good luck.
     
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  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    First I read and reread until I'm sick of the novel.
    I read out loud or use that little thing on the computer that lets you listen to the story being narrated- clearing up sentences and SPAG issues.
    I read for plot - taking notes for obvious plot holes, loose ends, scenes that drag, boring bits, fun bits. ( I'm all for printing it out like Ed suggested but I don't often do it because ink can be expensive. Most times I make a note in parenthesis within the text then to make it stand out I hit the return a few times and make an obvious space between it and the text )

    Then I read it again making sure I have a good idea about the plans in store.
    Now usually I keep my WIP in a folder with each chapter a separate word doc. When I start a new draft I open a new folder in the folder and tack on the title with a number 2 after it. Then I copy and paste the chapter docs in the second folder that way I can rewrite scenes, ditch scenes, copy and paste scenes without it affecting the original draft. Plus by keeping the word docs down to chapters I can keep track of things. And if you want to keep things easier you can name the chapters after incidents that happen -i.e. Chapter 2 - Evan's birthday. This is how I worked my first novel - I gave the chapters titles to keep track of all the incidents.
     
  9. Rob Rowntree
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    Rob Rowntree Member

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    That's really great advice.
     
  10. Rob Rowntree
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    Rob Rowntree Member

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    Both EdFromNY and peachalulu have illustrated how to deal with your first draft. It's the same for all of us, to quote Larry Niven 'Everyone talks first draft, but nobody shows it.' (that might not be his exact words) It's called a vomit draft for a reason. I have edited until I hate my work and never wanted to see it again.

    Don't put off by the task. It can be daunting on page one with 300 plus pages to go, but take your time, and soon you'll be through it. Then the fun can start as you try and place or sell it. Editing, pah! Try surviving the agents, publishers and then the public... :)
     
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  11. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I think you should take some time away from your work. Use this time to think about your story and how you plan on revising it. Also use this time to read to learn new writing techniques. You can also use this time to just relax. When i wrote my rough draft i barely watched any TV so now I am binge watching all my shows lol.
     
  12. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @EdFromNY
    Omg, you're still here?! :love:

    I agree with their advice, Ed's and Peach's, because it depends on the writer and what you need to do.
    I chose a complete rewrite because it ended up being pretty much a rewrite as I learned quite a bit in the meantime and had strong notions on what I needed.
    Maybe it's not the correct path for you.
    I knew I was going to do it, but maybe it's not the best course.
     
  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    As time allows.
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not disagreeing with any of the previously offered advice - if it feels right to you, OP, give it a try.

    But for me? I'd be tempted to trunk the first novel. (That is, put it away and don't think about it. Don't throw it out, but...almost).

    This is my instinct because I hate editing. HATE it. I'm a big-picture person in pretty much every aspect of life, and spending weeks or months JUST worrying about details would, for me, completely kill my enthusiasm for a project. If I have to spend more than about a weekend doing edits, I become something significantly worse than cranky. Editing SUCKS. (for me).

    So I edit as I go, tiny bursts of effort that get rewarded with writing time as soon as the editing is done. Then when I'm done I might go back and spend a day or two on little fixes (a scene here, a slightly different characterization there) and that's about it until betas respond.

    OP, I don't know what your goals are, or your writing style, or how attached you are to the story in the first MS. If you're absolutely determined to polish that story to its maximum potential, then, for sure, the other posters have given good advice. But I'd also consider letting that MS go and starting on something new. Use everything you've learned from the first effort, take a bit more care as you go, and you may end up with a much easier editing process once the first draft is done.

    Just another perspective.
     
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  15. Cholula
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    Cholula New Member

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    Thanks, everyone! This gives me a lot of ideas. :D
     

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