Week 67

67I'm taking a break from the novel to redraft and polish a short story I've written. This is the first time I've tested the process I've been using for my novel: namely, writing a first draft long-hand and as fast as I can (she says, ahem, in week 67), before typing it up and redrafting on a computer.

Half of my novel is already typed, but after about 80,000 words I decided to jump ship and try writing with a pen and paper to avoid the note form, constant revisions and thoughts about structure I felt were being encouraged by my writing software. Much as I have heard the "zoom" function is not great for designers, I wonder if the "zoom out" function isn't useful at the first draft stage, when all you need to do is get it down. Don't worry about what happened then, which word to use or what that character was called in the earlier chapter, just get it down.

So, the short story I wrote long-hand and estimated was about 5,200 words long is actually 7,304.

(Which makes me wonder about the 40-odd thousand words I think I've added to my novel since writing long-hand. It's already way too long - almost 130,000 in total - could it be in reality more like 150,000? And I've still got a couple of chapters to go...)

I tried to type it up without thinking, but in the course of doing so had to open another file called "outline", to record the scenes and ideas I liked. The temptation to leave the passages I didn't like on the page was strong, but I forced myself to type them up nevertheless. I twiddled with a few sentences here and there, and wrote up ideas as they came to me.

In short, it was ore than an exercise in transcription. The redraft started almost as soon as I started typing, with the story changing shape as a result. This is a good trial run for when I come to do the same for my novel.

Cutting it down won't be hard - there's barely a third of it that I actually like - but that leaves a lot more rewriting than I anticipated in the second draft. I've heard the phrase "writing is rewriting" enough times, but it didn't occur to me how much that was writing from scratch, not honing and editing with a red pen.

Word count this week: 0 First draft: 127,812 Short story: 7,304