Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Drafts

Before I go and get all excited on my own account, please look to your right and the fabulous cover Stuart Downing has once again provided, this time for Sheep that Stray. I'm so lucky to have him as a cover artist. The first draft of Wooden Weft, the mid book in the Weaver trilogy, is done! This is the book that follows Weaver's Web, the first book I published. First drafts. For me, first comes the research. It is a bad idea to research second in case a foundation of your plot ends up being based on faulty info. For that I went to New Orleans for and got to visit my first really sleazy strip club. I had many other adventures, including dropping half my notes in a full toilet. Everyone has their own way to write a first draft. To write, period. I know those who set aside certain hours of the day. I know those who will not rest till they hit a certain number of pages for the day. I do a lot of back research. I get to know my characters inside out so that when they have to speak, they can do it, not me. I use my gigantic magnet board that takes up one wall of my office to stick up elements and scenes and move them around repeatedly across the entire process of the book. I scene sketch scenes I will never write, but need to know about. By the time I am ready to write, the book is ready to take over. I never thought I'd be a plotter. I used to go by the seat of my pants. Now it is as if I have written a first draft before my first draft. It saves some time and energy and not having quite so many of those scenes that run amok for no good purpose and never get anything I wanted said. Not to say I'm totally adverse to amok. I like amok. It is still my friend. Amok often has better ideas than I do. Hence all the changes in my magnet board. I write as much as I can during the day. I do the things I absolutely have to like take care of the pets and go to doctor appts and yoga classes, and let everything else go to hell. I do not suggest this unbalanced, obsessive manner of writing. Sure, you get good content fast, but when you wake up, as I just did, you realize your kitchen smells funny--probably because everything in it is dirty. There's some black scum in your bath tub, which no longer drains properly, and all your clothes are dirty. It's a harsh reality, especially since at the end of a big project, I always hit a low. Anyone else have that? I've met some other artists and writers who talk about it. You get done with a draft, and your adrenaline finally stops pumping and your mood takes a swoop down the downwards. I feel inertia, not sure what to do with myself. Other than wash the dishes and find that smell. I like to leave time between drafts so that I can see the book in a new light when I return to it. One of my rules of first drafts is never go back. I've known people who never get beyond the first ten pages because that's what an agent and editor will read. For now, fuck the agents and publishers and the sales demo for you craft. Write what comes to you. And never go back. Once the scene is down, it is down. Move on. There's a good chance you'll change it all anyway in the second draft. So don't sweat it. Put down what is important to you. Put down shit you think is awful and never want to see again. If you can't think of a period name for a new character, leave a blank or give her a tag like red haired girl fighter, though that one is long. Just put something down. That's my philosophy. So I am a plotter and not. I'm really excited about how this book came out so far. I'm not a fan of serial books, but it's a challenge, and I thought I'd give it a go. I admit. I was scared shitless. I read over Weaver's Web obsessively in attempts not to make contradictions. I made lists. Of how people were described, down to smell. Hey, I love smell. Smell is important to me. But once I got going, I left my inhibitions behind. Sure, I started the book with the characters emotionally basically in the same place. That wasn't hard. Wooden Weft picks up a matter of days from when Weaver's Web leaves off. From there, I did what I was afraid to do, and let the characters grow rabidly into what they felt they should become. I'm proud of that. I often find the second book in a trilogy is weak. The first book will be a strong introduction to the world, the characters, the problem. The last book is where your author wanted to take you the whole time, so is packed with fun. That middle one can hang there. Some plot needs to be put in and the characters might need to change some, but basically I often find them to be rope bridges from one place to another. And not any rope bridges but the kind of rope bridge Indiana Jones had to cross in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Yeah. You know what I mean. And if you don't you should watch the movies. Temple of Doom, by the way, was the weak second movie. So I work in a way on this trilogy in the only way that makes sense to me. I have no fucking clue what is in the next book. Well, I might have a few core concepts by the end of the book. But basically, I'm driving blind on where the next thing goes. This is the only thing that makes sense to me. My characters drive everything that happens--both their growth and the plot. I can't see at the beginning of the book exactly who my characters will be at the end of the book. Or the plot, for that matter, since they are leading the way. I can't conceptualize plotting all three books at once. For one, if I then stuck to these plots, I would become plot driven instead of character driven and I don't play that game. I was afraid of how it would work, but so far it has worked great. I believe that Wooden Weft and Weaver's Web mesh. I have a few ideas about the final book I'm excited about now that I've gotten to this point. When I was a kid, I use to write 600 page, 1000 page novels. These days they've shrunk, especially the word count. But I realize now what writing a trilogy really is: A chance to write a really complicated and long set of character arcs!

1 comment:

  1. I am really looking forward to "Wooden Weft." The character growth in "Weaver's Web," especially the love and tension between Weaver and Sam, caught me by the throat even if this is a "close the doors, they're coming in the windows" fast paced, "monster, monster, who are the monsters" book. I know--or trust--that the love affair between Jamie, the vamp and Weaver, a Sidhe, will develop, but with the Trickster figures running amuck in this series, i feel like everything else is up for grabs. (So who knew "faerie" came from Fata, Latin, Goddess of Fate?)