As I’ve mentioned in earlier blogs, I like to work on more than one writing project at a time. It keeps my goal-oriented life focused and on track…mostly. One goal I completed last year was to finish the first draft of my first urban fantasy novel. It was a satisfying moment because I’d been thinking about the book off and on for about eight years.
During that time, I’d been writing and publishing mysteries which is my comfort area and something I know well. An urban fantasy that is centered around Wicca and witches required more research than I thought, and a wild stretch of imagination. As it turns out, it’s also stretching my editing skills.
Unlike my 70,000 word mysteries, this 100,000+ word book has five sections and over 70 chapters so far. Some of the sections take place in different periods of time. The book is written in present tense, which works for the sections set in current time, but I wondered about the sections set in the past, since they basically provide backstory.
After reading Manuscript Makeover and mulling it over, I decided to go back and write the sections those backstory sections in third person. By this point, though, I was already 250 pages into the second draft.
So, I’m back to section two (set in 1953) and am starting again. It’s slow-going as I’m not only changing the tense but adding new aspects and depth to the plot and characters. At the same time, I’m bringing earlier pages of that section to my writers’ group and making notes on section One that I’d thought was in pretty good shape, only it isn’t after all. I’m also waiting to jump ahead to pick up where I left off in section four (p. 250) before reworking the tense changes. All this going back and forth is leaving me dizzy, and I’m not sure that it’s working as smoothly as it could. That I only have a small amount of time each day to devote to it doesn’t help.
I remember listening to Diana Gabaldon speak at several Surrey International Writers Conferences (she even presented me with an award once), talking about how she writes a novel in pieces and at different places, then eventually knits them altogether. To this day, I don’t know how she does it. Having experienced a taste of editing in bits and pieces at different points in my manuscript, I’m beginning to think that the straight, chronological approach works better for me. I’ll know more once the second draft is finally finished. At this rate, however, I have no idea when that will be.