Tackling the manuscript

Just a little update you guys about how or rather where I am in my manuscript. I finished my first draft–in its roughest glory just before the holidays so around mid-October last year. I took a few weeks off for clarity even though I was itching to get back in. This break was super, super important because I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders, I felt relaxed and totally smug about it I’ll admit. After years of ‘what if I wrote a book?’, to months of writing said book, to ‘omg I just finished writing this story what-what hello 124,000-word beauty or beast I guess both would apply. I digress, so I took a few weeks off the manuscript BUT not from the craft. Using my time wisely, I read about revising, story structure, and character arcs…etc. Also, I listened to several podcasts about writing, author interviews, writing techniques, writing for tv, writing movies–a lot about writing basically.

By the time I had finished the first draft, I knew the story had grown a lot than where I had started, I also knew that some parts would not work anymore. In the process of writing the first draft, I continuously updated my outline. Yes, I had an outline, although I sort of did pants it for a while. But even when I was pantsing it I made a *secret* outline hee hee. Anyway, the process of updating an outline–these outlines where nothing complicated they were bare bones of ‘what needs to happen in this chapter’ kind of thing–helped me get an overall view of how the story was changing AND when these changes were happening. When it came time to return to my manuscript I was ready to take it apart and remove the scenes that I had written using earlier outlines that no longer worked with the final outline.

It was a daunting task. I had printed a whole ream of paper with words that I had written only to discover that I had to remove 40,000 words (because this is my first novel and its sci-fi/fantasy and until someone tells me I can go beyond the limit of words I am going to stick to the word count for that genre).

I read through the manuscript while also making notes along the margins as well as in my notebook about things that needed to be updated, changed, or completely remove. In addition to that, I went on and marked each scene by chapter and wrote a summary of each one. This process I found the most helpful because when I was done going through the entire thing and read through the summaries, I had a visual of scenes that were irrelevant to the plot. It took me about three weeks, but it was the best thing to have when I finally began to revise and move into the second draft.

I’d say it’s moving smoothly and steadily one chapter at a time.


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