Friday, May 02, 2008

Let me count the days

The Willamette Writers’ Conference is in 91 days! The pitching workshop is in 85 days (the weekend before the conference), but the actual opportunity to pitch a book to an agent is at the conference, so 91 days. This means I have somewhere in that time frame—right around three months—to finish Blood of the Mist and get it ready to show to someone in case there’s interest.

I don’t quite exactly know what happens if you pitch a book and the agent likes it. I think that you need to have a full draft ready to give to them. I think it’s supposed to be a finished, polished draft. Gulp.

Can I get a finished, polished draft ready in three months? I don’t actually know. I think I can. I think it can be done. I think I’m turning into The Little Engine that Could. That’s all right. At least he got things done, right?

Seriously, I need a game plan. One that doesn’t involve panicking and hyperventilating. So what’s my plan? Oh yeah. I still have to make one.

Here goes the plan, then. Tonight I will finish reading the last pages of BoTM to get me back into the flow of the story. Over the weekend, I will spend time writing a bullet point outline of what we have going on so far in the story and what we need to reach the finish line (and who is this “we” and where are the other parties and why aren’t they doing any of the work?!). Then next week, during Book-in-a-Week, I will write. I set my goal for 20 pages for this month, but I would really like to do more. At least 30 pages, and then the same the following week and the week after. At that rate, I should be finished with the first draft by the end of May.

In June, I will transcribe all of the handwritten pages onto the computer. This process for me always involves editing as I go, so I will end up with an edited/revised draft just by typing the book in. This is good. It sort of feels like an added bonus! So, second draft complete by June 30. Good.

July. (I am actually hoping the transcribing/editing won’t take all of June, but I’m going to give myself that timeframe anyhow.) In July, I will print out the book (yikes that’s a lot of pages!) and do a read-through with pen in hand (this is where my training as an English/Literature major and an English teacher really pays off!). I will do this read-through from July 1-10. Then I will enter my corrections into the computer and reprint the pages with corrections on them (oh please don’t let it be all of them!). Then from July 11-20 I will do another read-through and mark any further changes. And then again with the making changes in the computer. And then I hope I’ll be finished and have a little bit of time to let it sit so I am not thoroughly sick of it by the time the conference rolls around. I want to be able to speak about it with some enthusiasm!

I think this should work. This is how I revise short stories. I think revisions on a novel should work about the same except for taking longer because of the length. I’m also going to reread Holly Lisle’s article "How to Revise a Novel" and incorporate at least some of her ideas into my revision process.

I will keep up with my blogging here and at Mythic Writers. My posts may be a bit scanty now and then. They may be all about the rewriting process, at least some of the time. But I will be here. And next week, I’ll even be back on my normal schedule! See you Tuesday!

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