While reviewing my notes last night and this morning, I thought I’d made a dreadful mistake.
As I’ve mentioned, I have a huge binder full of notes. The first draft was finished as a Fast Draft (ala Candy Havens) back in March, 2007, and ever since I’ve been overwhelmed at the prospect of revising it. Literally, I’ve been unable to comprehend how I can possibly complete this project.
While I’m glad I attempted a Fast Draft (and succeeded), the lesson I came away with is that draft is an OUTLINE, not a foundation on which I can build a story. I can’t open that file and begin revisions — I have to start FRESH. The first draft doesn’t contain all the story threads I decided to add later (when I realized I only had “half” a book), and the characters are two-dimensional, again, because I wrote the blasted thing so fast.
It’s a fantastic story premise, though, and well worth the work, if I can decide how to tackle it.
About a year ago, I bought Karen Wiesner’s First Draft in 30 Days because of its revision chapters. I cut the first draft apart like she recommended, made notes for each section, did tons of worldbuilding and new character development. All good work. But when I started the revision, I quickly became overwhelmed again. I was afraid. I got it into my head that I’d never be a Regency writer — which is true. I’m a FANTASY writer who wants to write a Regency-based fantasy. I lost sight of that and allowed myself to skip off onto a new project.
My fear beat me a year ago.
So determined to conquer this fear, I reviewed everything and found many incredible notes. I also found something sadly lacking. While I had 3 spreadsheets outlining the scenes, I couldn’t find any DETAILS about those scenes. Now a year later, how the heck am I supposed to remember what a section title of “Somedays….” means?
After building up my mental reserves to tackle this revision, I sat here this morning sick to my stomach. Had I really been that stupid to spend so much time outlining and planning — only to never create any kind of outline? Usually I create notecards for each scene and jot a few notes. It doesn’t have to be formal — just enough to help me remember what that section title was supposed to mean. Was I so afraid that I’d wasted all this time on “planning” and “research” only to subconsciously sabotage myself?
I went through all my secret drawers, looking for a baggie of notecards. Nadda. I decided to go through my laptop files one more time. Maybe I’d done something different that I couldn’t remember. After all, I was using FD30D documents. Maybe…
With a huge sigh of relief, I found a document called “Capsule Outline” — a glorious 97 page outline, one page for every single section in my day sheet. WHEW. I was really sweating bullets here, people!
So now this week I’ll read my outline, review each character’s biography (yes, I have that much detail!) and make sure they’re tightly tied to the premise, and make any revisions to my notes that I come up with. Then hold onto your butts, because May 1st, I’ll start the second major re-VISION draft of Arcana (RHP).