Good news, people! I heard back from le agents earlier this week as to a verdict on the first draft of THE MEMORY THIEF. Survey says? We are clear for lift-off. (Trying to think if I can incorporate any other mixed metaphors here. Falling short.) They had some great suggestions for improvements, of course–but overall thought it was a strong first draft.
What does that mean?
It means I’ve pressed the “pause” button on my rewrite of GET CUPID (which had just passed the 24,000 word mark) to turn my attention to a second draft of THE MEMORY THIEF. I’m typically against doing this sort of project juggling, mainly because I really like to keep momentum when I’m in the middle of a project. So why did I do it in this case?
First off, the GET CUPID rewrite is drastic enough that I thought it would be good to step away from it for a while. When I come back to it, I can reread what I’ve done and see if it’s working as I think it should be. Taking time away from a project can get you some excellent perspective, and that’s really vital when doing a third, fourth, or fifth draft. So that’s a plus.
In addition, my agent wasn’t as keen on the second draft of GET CUPID. (Hence the drastic revision.) So when faced between a choice of which project to work on, I choose the one that people liked the most. The one with the best chance of selling sooner rather than later. It ain’t a hard decision.
It also helps that THE MEMORY THIEF is in pretty good shape, as far as drafts go. It’s short. It’s consistent, and it shouldn’t take too much work to polish it up some more.
So that’s what I’m doing.
Step one is to reread the whole thing myself–to remind me what the book was like and see what I think needs to be done. Once that’s completed, I’ll look at the feedback I’ve gotten to date, and then come up with a list of changes I want to make in the book. Then it’s as simple as going down that list and making those changes. I think in this case, the end result will be a tad longer than the book is now. I’ve got 5,000 or so words to work with, and I think I’ll be giving the current book a trim before adding quite a few more words, if that makes sense.
As for the reread, I’ve decided to do a read aloud to Denisa and TRC. We’ve been doing to chapters a night, and then I talk to them about things they liked or didn’t like from each chapter. So far I’ve been surprised that the book starts off as slowly as it does. The pacing seemed pretty sluggish in big swathes of the first four chapters. Luckily, that’s an easy enough fix to make. I think it comes as a result of me doing a lot of exploring when I start a new book. I end up writing more than necessary as I try to figure out who the characters are and what makes them tick. By the middle and end of the book, with that all figured out, I can get things humming and moving more quickly. This is a common problem in my first drafts, in other words–one I expected to see, but am nevertheless surprised when I notice it. (Especially in this case, where I just finished writing the book a few months ago, and I stepped away from the novel thinking it was pretty tight and zippy.) I’m always happy when I can reread a draft and feel like I’m seeing it for the first time. I really like the feedback I give on books. 🙂
Anyway. That’s where I am now. I think the reread will take a week or so, and then there will be a few days of figuring out the exact changes I want to make, and then the revision, which I don’t imagine will last a month. You never know, of course. In this case, with the book being in as good of shape as it is, I might try to shoot for a more polished draft 2 than I normally go for. That might make sense. The less redrafting I have to do, the better.
Wish me luck!