Okay, I’m not REALLY done with I Am Anna Winkler (far from it!)…but I’m done with the first draft! And I know that I have a pretty solid beginning (which can still be tightened some), a sagging middle, and an ending that falls flat. The best thing about this draft is the cliffhangers — I’ve managed to include a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter. What I most need to work on is each individual character arc, the “science” in the science fiction part of the story and the emotional impact of pretty much everything that happens in the story. But I can do this. My head is spinning with ideas for the next draft.
I’ve never had the experience of doing a TRUE rough draft before. Not like this. I usually do a lot of rewriting as I go along, so by the time I get to the end, I’ve been over and over each section so many times that I’ve got a pretty solid draft. If I get stuck partway through, I just stop writing. I pull out all my charts and workbooks and keep trying new things until I figure out the problem. If that doesn’t help, I set the work aside.
I got stuck in this project about halfway through. But because I had this commitment to go in to school and read two chapters of this story to a class of sixth graders every week, I didn’t really have the luxury of stopping. So I pushed on. And as a result, I now have a complete draft. It’s not a great draft, but because it’s complete (i.e. it has a beginning, middle and end), I think I’m seeing things I might not have seen otherwise. I can actually see the SHAPE of my novel…which allows me to see new possibilities.
I need to put this aside for a few weeks while I write up a proposal and sample chapters for this other book that I’ve been talking to my Albert Whitman editor about, but I’m actually looking forward to digging into this revision. Revision is not something I normally look forward to.