Staturday Update – 11/20/10

I went on vacation this week. That’s why there was no update. Oh well. Stuff happens, I guess. I did, however, take some time to write poolside. I copied my folder over to my laptop, where I managed to get a number of words written.

I thought it would be a good time to update the progress of specific stories. To understand the following, you need to understand the writing process. I’m sure most of you probably know, but I’m going to explain it… just in case.

I’ve never been able to outline completely. I think that makes for a boring time. So, usually, I tend to start with a real basic skeletal framework of a beginning, middle and end. What this leads to is a pretty terrible first draft. I’ll sometimes have multiple voices and multiple perspectives. I’ll have changed the point of the story somewhere in the middle. I sometimes change the setting, time frames, characters, etc, etc.

Ernest Hemingway said that the first draft is always shit. In my case, it must be an entire pile. I can look at the story and know if there’s something there worth streamlining, but I would never show the first draft to anyone. It’s just terrible.

The second draft cleans up a lot of this. On a second draft I rarely concern myself with grammar and sentence wording. That comes later. My second draft is just to clean up all of the inconsistencies in the plot. It’s the draft that usually takes the longest. By the end, I typically have a pretty good story, though I’m still not ready for anyone to read it.

The next few drafts are deep-cleaning drafts. This is where I fix all my stupid grammatical mistakes, rewrite sentences, reorder paragraphs. This usually takes two or three read-throughs. By the end, I have a good story that I’m ready to show other people.

Once they read it, and give me their thoughts, I head to the word processor to tweak a few things. By this point in the process, I consider the story done and ready.

I’ll usually read it again after a couple of weeks, making some real minor changes, but for the most part if the story reaches this point, it’s ready to go. So, I’d like to see how close my stories are to this point.

1. My Father’s Eyes – Complete and Ready
2. Elizabeth – Complete and Ready
3. Sara’s Smile – Complete and Ready
3. The Squeaky Door – Second Draft Complete
4. The Little Shit – First Draft Complete
5. Lena – Second Draft Complete
6. The Flower’s Decay – Second Draft Complete
7. Darcy Broke My Heart – First Draft Complete
8. The Empty Sleeping Bag – First Draft 25-Percent Complete
9. TM – Complete and Ready
10. The Assistant – First Draft 10-Percent Complete
11. A Guided Tour – Haven’t Even Started.

So, as you can see, there are a few stories that aren’t even ready to edit yet. I’m still writing the words. This sort of thing happens. As you read the final product, you’ll kind of notice a rhythm to the pieces. This rhythm is by design. A lot of these later stories are necessary for that rhythm to work. It’s a work in process, I guess.

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