Welcome To First-Draftsville, Population: Me

*shoves cabin door open with shoulder, coughs at dust*

Sorry, I still have a lot of cleaning up to do.

It’s been a while since I’ve been here. I wrote the first draft of Bound in 2010, the first draft of Torn in 2012, the first draft of my Urban Fantasy novella Resurrection over a year ago (and that in two very separate parts). Sure, there have been drafts of blog posts since then. Short stories. Flash fiction, just to keep me on my toes. But this? The big stuff?

*whips dust cover off of decrepit sofa*

This is big time.

Have a seat. I don’t think the dust bunnies will bite. Or the plot bunnies, for that matter. Mind the spiders, though.

I’m 18,000 words into the first draft of book #3 in the Bound trilogy. It has a name, but that’s top secret for now. If you need a working title, I was going with “Creepy Uncle Pantaloon’s Circus of Fun.”

Probably best to just go with “book 3.”

My point is… this is kind of a weird place to be. I know some people love drafting. Me? I love revising. I don’t like filling the sandbox, I like playing in it. I like taking the words that are there and improving them, pruning the stray branches off of an unruly story, re-shaping character motivations that aren’t helping them or me, finding the problems and fixing them.

The blank screen is intimidating, I’m not going to lie.

Now, I have done a few things to make it less so, and I’m going to share them with you. I’m always experimenting with technique. This is by no means a permanent battle plan, or right for everyone, but here’s how I’m doing it this time around:

  • This is the end of a trilogy, which means lots of loose ends to tie up (if not all of them, then at least the major ones). I’ve also dealt myself a whole lot of wild cards in books one and two. All of this went into a pair of lists that we’ll come back to later.
  • I’ve known the ending since before I started drafting book one, but until a few weeks ago, the first half of book three was… let’s be generous and say “nebulous.” I knew the answers were there, but I couldn’t see them no matter how hard I tried. Scary stuff. This is where those lists came in. Those were the blueprints and tools that helped me build the bridge to the second half of the book.
  • I planned more this time than I ever have before. Every scene I knew I wanted to use and every one I thought I might use went onto an index card in Scrivener. I added to them, rearranged them, figured out who would be the POV character for each scene. As I made those notes, the holes became clear, and I started to fill them in.
  • I took a fresh look at how the characters have developed so far, where they need to end up, and what internal and external pressures would logically lead them there. They’ve already surprised me a few times, and this could all change, but it gave me ideas for those missing scenes.
  • Having those scenes laid out meant I had no excuse to not start drafting.

That’s it. Nothing fancy. But it’s a big leap from having ideas for events in my head and just trying to get to them, or scribbling notes on paper, as I’ve done in the past.

What I’m really trying to do here is streamline the process. Might save on revisions. We’ll see.

Now, this isn’t to say that everything is planned out and writing is just a matter of finding the right words to express what I already decided on. After ten scenes, things have already happened that I hadn’t anticipated. Bright little moments have popped up and made me smile, new scenes have turned up, internal conflicts have come to light*, past relationships have… well, you’ll see. Plotting doesn’t mean taking the surprises out of writing, as I always thought it would. It just means that with the big things taken care of, I can turn my attention to teasing out the little ones that make a story rich and satisfying. In the past, those moments didn’t come to light until draft two.

It’s still hard. I haven’t had a day yet where the words flowed and my fingers couldn’t keep up with my brain. But I’m hitting a steady pace, and I like what’s happening in the story, even if getting words out of my brain is like pulling taffy.

Taffy. Out of my brain.

Terrible image, sorry. I used up all of my good ones this morning.

This is all I can ask for, really. I’m working. I’m actually enjoying the first draft this time through, even if part of me still just wants to have it DONE.

I’m happy. And I think readers will be, too.

*I now need to go back and make adjustments to Torn because of this–and this is exactly why I draft the next book before I publish the previous one. That, and so I can release more than one book a year.

 

 

 

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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