Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Finishing A First Draft

This is the part where I take all of those scenes that I’ve spent the last six or eight weeks writing as pieces-parts and I link them all up. And, I’m discovering again (I have to figure this out on every manuscript), it’s harder than it looks.

What have I discovered this time?

Well, there’s a pivotal section, either one or two scenes, where the heroine does a lot of her character development. I still have no idea what physically happens in those scenes, which is kind of a problem.

I’ve written the climactic scene where hero meets villain and gets the McGuffin* from the villain. Then he shoots him for killing the heroine (or at least trying to kill her). Um, there were supposed to be bombs going off, weren’t there? A quick check of the original synopsis and…yup, bombs. Building crashing down around their heads. Desperate scramble for the McGuffin.* You know, Hollywood stuff. And…it’s not there yet.

And, last but not least, the first draft of this 90-95,000 word novel is going to end up at 70,000 words. Maybe. Didn’t see that one coming. I’m hoping I don’t need to add a point of view.

My darling husband wandered in, allowed me to read this entry to him, and said, “You need more words. Get to wording.” Then smiled and wandered off down the hall (don’t bother trying to parse his idiosyncratic grammar and usage; it could make your head explode). And yet, I’m not planning to kill him, because I do need more words. So I’m off to get to wording.

With some luck and quite a bit of sweat, my next post will be the triumphant announcement that the first draft is officially done and ready for editing/polishing. Fingers crossed.

*In case you don’t know what a McGuffin is, here’s the dictionary.com definition: “a plot device that has no specific meaning or purpose other than to advance the story; any situation that motivates the action of a film either artificially or substantively. ”

It was coined/popularized by Alfred Hitchcock. Think of the bird statue in “The Maltese Falcon.” The ruby slippers in “Wizard of Oz.” The petrol in “Road Warrior.” The briefcase in “Ronin.” The baby in “Willow.” Or even the bridesmaid dresses in “28 Dresses.” Yup, McGuffins all. I do love a good McGuffin.

Cancer treatment…done—next!

The radiation treatment is finished! Yay! Check it off.

Actually, Double Yay!, because my behind has been seriously dragging for the last week, probably due to accumulated radiation fatigue–they said it would make me drag, and they were right. It’s hard to motivate myself to write when all I really want to do is take a nap.

I had to delete ten pages of last weekend’s work because, reading over it a couple of days later, I realized that it didn’t make any sense and didn’t fit with the rest of the plot. Drat. Dang. Bad Words, Bad Words, Bad Words. Apparently that’s what happens when I try to write instead of taking that nap. But now I’m done and it’s not a problem.

Just in time, too. I need to hurry up and finish the first draft of The Valois Contingency, because other characters are starting to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, Val, when you get a minute….” And I’ll have that minute just as soon as I get this draft finished—another 15,000 words at the most.

And then I’ll be able to check that off my to-do list, too. Woot!

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