Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rough Enough

I recently undertook a big job for my annual summer remodeling project. My dear husband puts up with and helps me each June and July when I dive into some major shakeup of the old homestead. We moved into our six bedroom home almost thirteen years ago and have painted everything at least twice already except the master bedroom. When we moved in, it had a very dark masculine wallpaper covering every inch. I didn't care for it but it was expensive appearing paper so we put off removing it for years. And my husband does professional residential and commercial painting so we knew the danger of removing wall paper. You never know what is underneath.
But I took the plunge on Monday and removed that durn paper. Took me about twenty hours and it was worse than we had feared. The wall behind the paper hadn't been prepped at all by whomever put up the paper. We were left with a very rough surface and many nicks as well as a couple dozen nail holes that weren't visible when the paper was on. I won't go into the many step process my husband used to turn those beat up walls into a smooth perfect surface sporting a beautiful new coat of paint, but while sanding and cursing this week I also had lots of time to think about my writing.
I have a friend who writes her first draft and it's nearly perfect. I have other friends who write up a plot so detailed, they might call it their first draft. We all have our different methods and I'm amazed at the differences. I know where my novels will start and where they will end and then do the plotting of the middle in my head. That means my first draft is rougher than any wall have destroyed by wall paper removal. After I finish my rough draft, I retype the entire book using that rough draft as my plot outline.
That second typing is when I check for overuse of words, plot inconsistencies, passive verbs and the myriad of other things that might cause the manuscript to be rejected. I make notes on a piece of notebook paper of things I need to change in the early parts of the book to make sure my characters end up where they're supposed to be when they need to be.
I'm guessing if we put ten novelists at a round table, we might get ten different processes of getting that finished product polished and ready for the world to read. I'm not sure one is better than the other, but if what you're using is working, perhaps you should try another. Don't select a method because you know it works for a successful author of your acquaintance and then stick with it forever. Find a style of plotting and editing that fits your personality and comfort zone.

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