Recent work on my third novel has been an interesting rollercoaster of emotions. As mentioned in my last couple of blog posts, I’ve been thinking a lot about my outlining process, and I’ve also been enjoying working on a comprehensive revision plan for this novel.
And the result of both of those has been to suggest that additional and more detailed planning is probably the best way forwards.
If I have a much more comprehensive outline, before I start drafting, I will likely end up with a longer, more structurally sound, and more detailed first draft. And putting as much detail into my revision plan as possible makes it much easier to implement the revisions, once I start work on the actual manuscript.
This theory has certainly been borne out this week, as I’ve launched into my third draft of Magic’s Legacy, my third novel.
When I sent the second draft to my beta readers, I thought it was fairly close to being finished, but their brilliant (though sometimes quite harsh) feedback showed me, in no uncertain terms, that was very far from being the case.
So, I pushed back my submission schedule, rolled up my sleeves and embarked on the most comprehensive revision plan I’ve ever made! I had about 50 A4 pages of notes, which I transferred to index cards for each scene, building a chronological stack of bullet points that needed to be addressed throughout the manuscript. I also did a fair amount of extra world-building, working on the history of magic in the novel’s world, and how that would affect the characters and the plot.
I finished sorting out all my notes on Good Friday, with the intention of taking the rest of Easter weekend off, and launching into the actual revisions at the start of this past week. What ended up happening was that I worked myself up into a real state of anxiety about starting the revisions, so that it was even harder to start on Tuesday than usual!
I tend to enjoy the planning stages much more than the actual drafting, and I was dreading getting back into the manuscript and actually having to make the changes.
But, once I finally got out of my own way and got started, it was fine! Having such detailed notes made it very easy to see where the changes needed to be made in each scene, and the revisions flowed really smoothly.
I had planned to try and do two scenes in each writing session, so six per week, which would take eight weeks, and leave me plenty of time for another read-through before I have to send the revised manuscript back to my editor at the end of July (also allowing quite a bit of buffer, for when the revisions inevitably slow down a bit). And it turned out to be pretty easy to complete that amount in this first week, which felt really good!
I never used to be a planner when it came to my writing, but I’m fully converted now. Once I started doing it, I was a bit worried that really detailed planning would make the drafting process boring, as there wouldn’t be any surprises. But it seems that isn’t the case. Knowing really clearly what I need to do makes it so much easier to do the revisions, and also creates additional space for more inspiration to hit and enhance the story even more.
So, I’m hoping the revisions continue to go as well. And besides – even if there are still major problems with the novel when I’ve finished this draft, I’ve got my wonderful editor on hand to help me identify them!
I’m also really looking forward to (eventually) getting started on a new novel (which will be number five, as the first draft of number four is already done), so I can test out my new, incredibly detailed, uber outlining process! That’s going to be a while away yet, though… Have to finish number three first!