General update

Well the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2010 has finally been finished.  It’s a very different novel than it was five years ago.  I suppose technically it is a second draft, but it is so very different than the first I consider it to be a first draft of a new, yet similar, novel.

In the coming weeks I’ll be putting the chapters together, weaving the POVs into proper chronology and concentrating mostly on continuity for the second draft.  Some chapters will require major overhauls and I’ll tackle those as well on the second pass.

The third pass is where the work will really begin.  A scene by scene analysis ensuring proper tension, impact, emotion, etc. is present at all times.  Once the third draft is complete I hope to feel like I can see a real novel in front of me.  Right now I see potential, but it hasn’t come across on the page as I’d like yet (hey, it’s only a first draft.  It’s basically words vomited on screen).

After that I’ll start to play with individualizing characters and settings more, speech patterns, cadence, word choices, cultural differences, and so on.  This will likely be a pass for each POV character and then some to hit all the minor characters as well.

Finally, the project will be looked at as a whole and tightened up where necessary.  Ensuring the high impact areas hit hard, the high tension areas keep readers turning the pages, and everything is consistent with itself and with the world.  Then comes the copy editing.  This phase lasts until querying begins, and after that it’ll either get accepted with recommended changes, or it won’t and I’ll have to tweak things to get it accepted.

Beta readers will be utilized at various points throughout the process, but likely no earlier than the completed third draft.  At that stage, I’ll have most of the story set and can get feedback on which characters are working, and which need more.

A second novel?  Yes, during the time off between finishing the first draft and starting the second, I was struck by inspiration and outlined an entire novel.  I even wrote the first draft of the opening three chapters.  I’ve sent these out for critique to a few friends, and thus far have received mostly good feedback.  I’m still waiting on word from a few people though.  Again, some of these may end up on an online forum for feedback.

I’m also working on a short story for submission to a genre magazine, not sure which one yet.  Start at one and keep going until it’s accepted somewhere I suppose.  I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated on if/when someone takes it.

A lot of time lately has been spent on trying to improve my writing.  This ranges from listening to what various authors have said in Q & A sessions about their writing habits (then incorporating that into my life) and reading books aimed at improving writing.  I’ve read from authors like Django Wexler, Brent Weeks, Orson Scott Card, and Peter V. Brett, to literary agents such as Donald Maass, and as many other sources as I can find.  Currently waiting on Stephen King’s book, ‘On Writing’ from the library (huge wait list, as you can imagine).

Lot of good advice out there, but in the end it’s up to me, the author, to utilize it all effectively.  If my writing is sub par I can’t blame the advice for being poor, or not coming across the right book to help me.  But that’s another blog post entirely.  For now, let me just say that I am finding Donald Maass’ books of great help, specifically I’ve read ‘Writing the Breakout Novel’, and ‘The Fire in Fiction’.  Currently working through ‘Writing 21st Century Fiction’.  I can’t measure how helpful these books have been to me so far, but I would recommend them to any author looking for ways to improve their craft.

Continually moving forward to improve myself, I’ve found the only way to gauge this is by continually writing (I feel I’ve seen a good leap in quality).  So for now I’ll tackle the short story and then I’ll head back to my novel, (working title Time’s Scar, though I’m not happy with that so it won’t make it to the final title) for some heavy editing.  In the end, hopefully I’ll get a book on the shelf with my name on it, literally.

Currently reading: The Shadow’s Edge – Brent Weeks, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling (to my kids, but I enjoy it too), Writing 21st Century Fiction – Donald Maass

—CR Alexander

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