If you’ve been following me on social media, you’ll know that I finished the first draft of MEMORY THIEF 2 last Saturday. It clocked in at around 66,000 words, and I’m pretty happy with it, as far as first drafts go. It does the main thing I want my first drafts to do, which is get the basic events of the book down on paper, so that I can take a look at what’s happening and see where I need to revise things into shape.
I’m really big on revision. My first drafts need a lot of work to bring them up to shape, mainly because I typically make most of them up as I go along. It isn’t until the whole draft is finished that I really understand what the book is about. I get that isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to write a book, but it’s what works best for me.
My usual approach is to set the first draft aside for a half year or so after I finish it. Go off and write a different book, or else revise a book I’d written earlier. The thought behind this is that I’ll have forgotten enough of the book to be able to read it with “fresh eyes,” seeing it as if I hadn’t written it. I’m always worried I’ll go easy on a book I wrote, not being able to see the imperfections that will leap off the page to others.
With the MEMORY THIEF sequel, I don’t have this luxury.
The final draft is due in August. If I took 6 months off, I wouldn’t be coming back to the book until October, two months late. So I can’t very well sit back and do nothing. And as I thought about the problem, I realized some of this might just be that it’s time for me to handle my revisions differently. When I’ve revised MEMORY THIEF and VODNIK, there were times when I had to just plow through a revision, and forget all about needing fresh eyes.
So two days ago (just four days after having finished the first draft) I printed out the book and am rereading it from the beginning.
Right off, I’m seeing some good things from this approach. I remember what happens at the end of the book, for one thing, so I can spot places where I need to set things up better than I thought I had. I certainly feel like I’ve been able to write plenty of comments down for ways to improve the book. And somehow, I forgot enough about the beginning that I’m still feeling like I’m encountering it fairly fresh.
Some of this might changes as I get further into the book. Will I still be able to be objective when it’s with material I just barely wrote a month ago? We shall see. But I’m always open to switching things up with my writing. Maybe I’ll discover I’ve been sitting on books too long, or unnecessarily. Certainly having an editor already on board to look at it and give me feedback makes a huge difference.
I should also note that with this draft, I had a pretty strong outline that had already gotten feedback from my agents and editor, which is different than how I’ve worked in the past. I still anticipate making changes in the revision, but the skeleton should be fairly strong and constant. That will no doubt make a big difference.
I’m not sharing much in the way of details of the sequel just yet, mainly because I want to make sure my editor is happy with the book in general before I say too much about it. I don’t want readers to be getting excited for something, only to have it totally get switched on them before it gets published. So stay tuned for more information . . .