Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing and Revising in Layers

cohdra100_1413 Working on a first draft can be really challenging. There’s the plot to wrangle into shape, the conflict to ramp up, the characters to breathe life into. And there are a whole lot of pages to write before the final scene.

There’s so much to include that I frequently don’t include it all in the first draft.

In fact, there are some things that I never put in my first draft because I spend way too much time thinking about them and it messes up my pace.

Using a layered approach to writing a book makes me feel a little more focused on working through my first draft. I know that I don’t have to worry about a million different things while I’m writing the draft-- I only worry about half a million things. :)

Parts of the book that I add in layers for 2nd and 3rd drafts:

  • Setting descriptions
  • Character descriptions
  • Character last names and place names (I’ll mark as *** on the draft so I can find my spots later.)
  • Any scenes I was stuck on. I just make a couple of notes about what I wanted to accomplish with the scene and move on to the next scene.
  • Sometimes I’ll add entire subplots as a layer

I do the same thing with revising. If you think to yourself that you’re editing a whole book, the thought of it can be just as overwhelming as writing the book was.

These are issues that I address in layers for the revision:

  • Typos/grammar
  • Favorite words of mine that I use too frequently
  • Conflict—I make a pass through to make sure each scene either forwards the plot or adds to the conflict
  • Continuity (is the character wearing the same outfit on page 20 that she’s wearing on page 21?)
  • Subplots—did they resolve? Did they tie into the main plot?
  • Loose ends—is everything resolved at the end of the book?

And, because everyone’s writing process always really fascinates me, I’ll ask y’all about it: how do you work through your first draft? Do you try to include it all in one pass, or are you working in layers, too?