An End and a Beginning

Last night I finished the third draft of The Masked Bird.

I love editing, I really do. You can look at me strange and call me weird, but I love it. For me, the first draft of a novel is merely for putting down the bare bones and writing the plot in a semi-logical fashion. The true writing and the meat comes during the editing process, as I rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. When I wrote the first draft of TMB, I was told by a reader that they couldn’t care about the main character, because she didn’t change. In the second draft, I was began to work in character change, but the comment was that I told it too much, rather than showing it. With the third draft, I believe – I hope – I was able to show it in a way that gets the point across, without shoving it in the reader’s face. We’ll see what my betas think. πŸ˜‰

This draft had a number of challenges that I had to work through. How can I show this character development without condoning sin? Am I willing to sacrifice an entirely happy ending to drive the point home? How can I properly emphasize this character change? How much can I let the characters out of their organized box without derailing the story?

However, I’ve also learned so much. I’ve learned that sometimes the characters do know best. They know best how to keep themselves in character, and how to tie the end of the story to the beginning. Odd, considering they’re a figment of my imagination. I’ve learned that it can throw your story somewhat off-kilter to make major decisions in the middle, like taking it from being the first of a trilogy to a stand-alone. I’ve learned to not be afraid to take my book away from being marshmallows and rainbows and liberally sprinkle it with thunderstorms and earthquakes. Perhaps sprinkle isn’t the word. Douse is better. You’ve heard the saying that things have to get worse before they can get better? Way, way worse, to where the characters think there is no hope, and things still continue to worsen.

So what’s next? I’m taking an extended break until at least September, during which I’m sending it out to betas and critiquing it myself. And then I’ll start slowly, very slowly, writing the fourth and final full draft. I have a number of things to change: plot points to set up near the beginning, mounds of description to add, melodrama to change to legitimate emotion, even some character name changes and a possible title change, and that list only scratches the surface.

I’ve learned so much over the last two and a half years that I’ve spent with Raven, things about writing, and things about myself. I began as an immature fifteen year old, and so did she, but we’ve grown together. As I’ve matured (though I definitely am not mature yet), so has she, growing from a petty child to a passionate woman. I only hope we’re not still aging together when I’m eighty-three; that would be rather old for her to go through the development she does. πŸ˜‰

So I’m done the draft, but I’m not done the book. I’ve covered a lot of ground, but there’s so much more left. The path gets steeper here; I hope I’m ready.

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