I’m happy to report that January has turned out to be a hugely productive for me, writing wise at least. I was too busy to have the January Blues and if anything, the long month meant that I actually got more work done! That’s not to say that what I’ve done will be winning a Pulitzer anytime soon but I’ve been slogging away at Attrition and the end is very much in sight. I passed the 100K word mark this week and while I know there’s a lot more to writing a novel than the number of words in it, it was a great milestone to pass. There’s still a chunk of the story to write but it doesn’t feel as daunting as it was even a few weeks ago.
I’m definitely writing too much, as opposed to overwriting, although I’m sure I’ve plenty of darlings in there that I’ll need to kill in later drafts too. For me, the first draft is just about getting all the story out on the page. It doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, or even good, to be honest. I know the story itself is strong so it’s just up to me and the characters to portray it the way it should be. I’m willing myself not to think too much about the next draft at present as I’m acutely aware of the amount of work that’s needed. The first 50K words or so still need to be changed to third person close POV (I was originally writing the story from an omniscient POV but changed that after a very worthwhile workshop with Mia Gallagher). After that I’ll need to retrace my steps regarding the overall plot and I might get rid of a subplot that I really like but might not be adding to the overall piece. Likewise, I plan to change the chronological order of the story. At present there are three distinct time periods, as opposed to two when I started writing it. Either way, before any of that happens I need to get the first draft done and dusted, then set it aside for a few weeks before I start the second draft.
I broadly see the novel writing process as:
Planning: I’m a planner, so I like having a bit of a road map and I’m a fan of story points / beatsheets from my days of studying scriptwriting.
Draft One: get the story out. Arse in seat and write, write, write.
Draft Two: get the story right. Fix those plot holes and add/remove what needs changed in the story.
Draft Three+: get the story finished. Editing and making the story as best and as tight as it can be. Polish it and make it shine. This can take many drafts.
All in all it’s been a good start to my writing year. I’m hopeful that it’ll continue and this year with be the year that it comes together for me. I should have the first draft of Attrition completed by the end of February. In my “break” between drafts I plan on returning to Bitten By a Dog on Tuesday and revise it a little. I felt the story was finished but the feedback I received from an agent was that it was “too dark to be commercial”, which I was happy to take on board. Having read over it last month I can see several things that I now want to change about it. Even though it’s been a while since I worked on it actively, as I felt it was finished, I think I’ll give it another rewrite while I let the dust settle on Attrition. I’m chomping at the bit to start one or two new projects but I need to be disciplined about it and get BBADOT to a point that I can unequivocally draw a line under it and say it’s done.
So it’s been a busy month and it looks like it’s going to continue that way. But you know what? It feels good.