Monday, August 18, 2014

Things I learned in Draft Four

Draft 4 of The Last Song is done. On to Draft Five!

What I do in particular mean when I refer to something as a draft? I mean I read it from beginning to end and made changes. Story changes, line edits, whatever I felt each particular page seemed to need. I've cut around 10k words, so my previous 74k manuscript is now 64k and change.

But! I've learned some things about this novel in particular.

(and why yes, scruffy Blood Diamond Leonardo DiCaprio would make a good showing for my main character. I'm glad you asked.)

1. The magic doesn't start early enough. This is ostensibly an urban fantasy, but everything is rather mundane until chapter seven. Seven! That's far too late. I've got some hints earlier, but they're clearly too oblique (did I really just write that?) in that I get my own references but frequently nobody else does.

2. I make a lot of references. This isn't a bad thing, per se, but there are times I get me but nobody else does. In my daily life, I need to say "what do you mean what do I mean?" more often than I'd like, and the joke I'm laughing at is frequently not the joke everybody else is laughing at. But some of what The Last Song needs to be successful as a story is for the reader to have perhaps heard of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. Cerberus. Chiron. Or maybe not, and this will open the whole world of Greek mythology to them. I have no way of predicting what the reader will bring to the table.

3. Telling. I've mentioned before what reasonable reactions to some of the novel advice tropes are (show, don't tell, etc.) but "It was cold" isn't gonna cut it.

4. Filtering. Too much "he felt" and "he saw".

5. I need spell check too, sometimes. It's funny, it wasn't until I opened, named, and saved Draft Five that I went "Oh yeah, spell check."

6. Keeping names consistent. Somebody's girlfriend is either Penny or Polly.  I've decided on both separately. I think she should be Penny, but I'm sure I'll still find some Polly hanging around in this next draft.

7. It might not be dark enough. We're talking modern urban Orpheus and Eurydice. Detroit. Heroin addiction. And there are times, while reading, I feel like I kind of padded the edges a bit. There are places, in addition to needing more magic, it needs to be more raw, more visceral.

But. There are other times I'm really happy with it. So. Onward and upwards.


  1. Sounds like it's coming along! (And I love the Orpheus/Eurydice myth, yours sounds like an interesting take!)

    1. Yes, and now I'm either destroying the first chapter or making it even more amazing. It's hard to tell! After this, though, it's going to readers so it won't be just in MY head anymore.

      It's a myth I really like as well, and has stuck with me ever since I first read it in D'Aulaire's book of Greek Mythology, back in elementary school. I can still picture the illustrations!