The First Week*: A Question of Pacing
* And A Bit
It has now been around a week and a half since I started my novel’s second draft, so think it’s about time I gave a little status report. By now, I was hoping to be on my second chapter, or maybe even my third. I figured that it wouldn’t take too long to go through the book, so long as I did a small amount of writing or editing each and every day and didn’t get too hung up over the precise wording of things.
I finished my first chapter this afternoon.
There were several reasons for this. Time management – or rather my lack of it – was certainly a factor. Another issue is that I’m now confining my weekday writing to evenings, seeing as my early-morning writing seemed to be adversely affecting my PhD.
Last but not least, however, involved my story itself.
Pacing, I’ve realised, is a major issue in my first draft. When I first started writing this book, I still wasn’t really used to writing big things; thus, I padded things out in a big way, particularly in the beginning. It took over four thousand words to get my big “hook” scene, for instance – far from ideal, to say the least.
The “hook” scene, just to be clear, is the scene with which I intend to draw readers fully into the narrative. It makes the protagonist’s situation clear to the reader for the first time and also reveals a highly important worldbuilding detail, so it was imperative that I reach this scene as soon as possible. Simply editing my first chapter, I realised, wouldn’t be enough; what was needed, rather, was a complete rewrite.
And that’s what I did.
I mentioned last week that I’d re-written my opening scene; much of this scene is now slated to be in the second chapter, albeit heavily modified. My opening now consists almost entirely of new material, with only a couple of descriptions transplanted from the old beginning. Said new material allowed me to get to my “hook” sequence in only 1550 words – a major improvement, if I do say so myself.
More than ever, I’m starting to realise just how wild a ride this is going to be. I expect I’ll learn more from editing this than I’ve learned from my earlier writing projects combined; presumably, I’ll learn even more from the next draft, and more still from the one after that. Maybe someday, I’ll learn enough to actually get this novel into a publishable state; wouldn’t THAT be cool?
In the meantime, I’m just going to keep plugging away at things and hope for the best.