Saturday, May 16, 2009


When I first started this blog back in February, I had a very clear mission statement. I wanted to describe the entire writing process of a book, from beginning to end. I already had one-and-a-half under my belt (along with a novella and a few short stories), and thought that this would help me refine the whole process.

And see how well it went! I complained, whined, and procrastinated. And, this morning, I finally finished the first draft of Mrs. Shadow. The complaining and the whining is the important part. Finishing was only a side effect. Seriously; I'm no closer than before to figuring out how to write. It's like falling down a hill and somehow finding that I've managed to cross a finish line on the way.

The more I write, the slower and slower I seem to get. When I moved here, I figured I might get down 3-4000 words in a good day. That may seem ridiculously optimistic; one cannot write that much and expect it to be good. And, of course, I didn't manage it; by the end, 2000 words was a good day for me. When I'm working on a first draft, I don't care about good. My first drafts are *never* good. I have to rewrite 90% of it. For some reason, that's what works best for me: it's about making a framework. I have to make the framework before I tear it down and replace it.

For instance: when I first started the book back in March, I had the basic spark - not a unique idea, but something that made the wheels in my brain turn. I couldn't *stop* thinking about it; I kept thinking of complications. I know this is vague, but that's because I don't want to spoil the book for my wife, who isn't going to get to see it for a few more months.

So I sat down with the name of the character, a really shallow idea of who she was, and a little bit about what was going to happen in the near future. And then I started writing. I know; there should probably be more preparation. But that's the point of my first draft; it IS preparation. While writing, I find out who everyone is, what they want, how they react. It's a big surprise.

The first page I started writing was a little girl's birthday party. Without thinking about the consequences, I took away her mother and gave her a very young stepmother. And then I kept going; let the characters interact however they wanted.

And the stepmother ended up being one of the most important people in the book. That's the reason I have to come up with a framework - I had no idea. I thought that certain people would die; certain others would disappear. I was completely wrong about most of it.

There were times I had no idea what would happen. Those were the worst; I had to force myself to sit at that keyboard and type a thousand words of what I can only assume is pure drivel. Enough to get me to the next exciting point.

In any case - the book is finished, and it's awful. No one's going to read it. But there's good potential; there's a decent book waiting to be carved out. I'm putting it aside for a couple of months and taking a break. Rebecca and I are going to be celebrating anniversary / birthdays in the next two or three weeks; once that's all over, I'll get back to revising The Cherubim, and - eventually - Mrs. Shadow.


  1. I think it was Stephen King who said, "Do not enter the blank page lightly." (or something like that)

    I write by the seat of my pants, too, so I can't offer advice. The important thing is to write every day no matter what.

    Cool it's finished. Now comes the fun part *editing* haha

    After Rebecca reads it, let us have a peek!


  2. I remember reading that in "On Writing"!! I keep that in mind whenever I write. Easier said than done, though; I think he also says to just keep writing, and you'll be surprised at how the bad stuff sometimes turns out to be really good. I figure as long as I don't let my whimsy take over, I'll be okay. But writing every day is so, so, SO hard.

    But editing is way better - I always seem to feel a lot more in control (and more comfortable with the delete key) when I'm doing a second draft :)

    I'd be so happy if you'd look at it once it's done! And - next, I'm going back and getting The Cherubim ready for querying, if you're up to looking at it in a month or two!