A lot of you have been expressing eager anticipation for the next installment in the Doomsday Kids series, book 4, Amy’s Gift (thank you!) and asking when it will be done. The answer is that I’ve finished the rough draft! 261 pages! Yay! That means I’m on schedule to have a new book ready to share with you in mid-April. It could take a little longer.
When I say that I’ve got a rough draft and it still will be months before you can read it, readers and fans are often confused. “If you’ve got a rough draft written, isn’t it nearly done? Don’t you just have to clean it up, check your grammar, format the pages and BOOM! Upload and print, right? Shouldn’t the book be up by the end of the month?”
Nope. Why not? The answer is: because my #rough drafts are crap!
In a rough draft, I feel my way through the plot, figure out what’s going on inside the narrating character’s mind and heart, and flesh out the conflicts they have with the other characters. I do #outline a little bit before I start writing (click the link to see one), but I’ll let you in on my dirty little secret:
I ignore my outlines.
I write to tell myself a story! If I outline, I’ve already told myself a story…and then it’s no fun for me. True, when I ghostwrite, I generally have to follow some kind of outline, but usually even then I deviate. I have to surprise myself. The joy of writing is in the surrender, in letting the characters take control and tell me their stories.
But #characters are people… and people don’t tell stories in straight lines. They talk all over the place! They whine and meander. They tell stories that reveal a lot about who they are… but don’t advance any real plot! Writing a book told from a character’s point of view is like sitting down with a good friend you haven’t seen in a while: the conversation bounces around because there’s so much to relate, so much to tell. The person starts with one story, then gets ahead of themselves, then bounces back to the past.
There’s a story unfolding but it loops and circles. In conversation it’s fine, but on the page, it’s often boring.
That’s what my rough draft looks like. The plot unfolds but it’s off track. I’ve learned that if I want a good book, I have to let the character talk. I have to let her tell me stuff that might be irrelevant. I have to let her unload her whining, self-pitying reflections. I have let her talk (after all, she’s a good friend) because knowing how she really feels is a part letting her unique voice come through.
Amy wanted to talk about things that happen in book 5. She wanted to tell me a lot of things that happen to other characters. She was very reserved about the current plot line and very hesitant to reveal anything about herself. Distrustful… even of me, her “mother.” But that’s consistent with who Amy is since the apocalypse. If you’ve read Nester’s Mistake, you know that’s true!
So, yes, I have a rough draft… but no, you can’t see it. And no Amy’s Gift won’t be ready until April. Maybe. Because the rough draft is really just the beginning. The next part is the part that takes the time. The next part is the work of writing (#writingprocess). The next part is when I take the energy of what Amy’s revealed to me and fit it to what has to happen in this installment of The Doomsday Kids series. The next part is where I cut Amy’s stories mercilessly (no matter how interesting they might be) because they don’t fit the narrative. The next part is when I make Amy stop hiding and circling and get real (like a good friend!) It’s also when I’ll ask her questions and make her notice what’s happening to the other characters as the drama unfolds.
This part is hard and time-consuming… but it’s also fun. It’s the writerly part that I truly look forward to because this is the part that I have control over. The character has told me how she feels and who she is in messy detail. Now I get to refine it and make it something that you’ll enjoy reading.
Want an example? Later this week, I’ll be sending out the Doomsday Kids newsletter. In it, I’m going to share a scene from Liam’s Promise’s #first draft that didn’t make it into the final manuscript. I’ll share more about why I cut most of the scene… and why I kept just the tiniest piece of it that you’ll remember from that story. If you haven’t read Liam’s Promise, you can find the ebook free, here and here.
The newsletter sign up is on this page—-> and look for the newsletter in your inbox on Thursday, February 12.
I know this sounds a little crazy (you can tell me so in the comments, below!) But here’s a picture of a t-shirt my husband just got for me that sort of explains it.
More soon! Back to writing Amy’s Gift!