Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fricassee

So if you've followed my Twitterings at all, you already know I'm close to finishing my latest WIP.  (It's official: I write first drafts in 3 months. Not sure if that's good or bad, but it's consistent.)  My target date is February 29 (because, how cool is that?) and I'm fairly certain I'll hit it.

I'm eager to finish, but not because I'm ready to jump in and revise.  I'm not.  I want to finish because I hate drafting and I want to be able to take this novel and set it aside to age for a bit.  I have no immediate plans for it; it's a working-ahead sort of thing.

You know how it is.  You've got to keep writing, yes?

So here's my question for today:  Are you the type with lots of drafts in your drawer, or do you always go back one at a time to revise them and make them strong right away?  I've recently had a chat with one of my teen readers about how she can't choose which of her drafted-but-not-revised novels to pull out and rip apart.  I was having trouble relating, because I don't have anything like that lying around.

Well, that's not completely true.  I have two completed "book 2" drafts, but that's not the kind of thing you spend time fixing, right?  But other than that, I always focus on whichever novel is most recently written.

I work on it until it's "done."  (Yeah, right.  What does "done" mean?)

But others--like my teen reader--seem to pour out stories and let them sit in first (or maybe second) draft form while they move on to the next story.  And soon there are all these novels and...then what?  How do you choose which one you want to complete?

Do you work that way?  Or are you a slow-and-steady, one-story-at-a-time type, like me?

It's endlessly fascinating how differently we approach things, all for the same final effect--a finish novel. Share your methods!

30 comments:

Kelley said...

I have three completed MS (ready to query or being queried). One that is finished but not edited and three that are started including the one I'm working on.

So I'm all over the board. I go with what I'm passionate about at the moment. :)

MittensMorgul said...

When I read, I can only read one book at a time. When I write, I can only write one book at a time. Once I get through the second or third draft, if another novel is screaming at me for my attention, I might start writing it, or at least jotting notes for it, but I'll keep going back to the original to make sure it's ready to go first.

I just can't keep everything straight if I keep switching around! Like Charles Emerson Winchester the third, I do one thing, I do it very well (or at least to the best of my ability!), and then I move on.

(Sorry about the MASH reference, my husband's been watching reruns while I make dinner the last week or two)

JeffO said...

I'm not sure if I've been doing this long enough to really know yet.

Stacy McKitrick said...

I do like having a book finished before going on to the next one, but sometimes that's not possible, especially if I'm letting a finished one simmer and I want to write! I guess when I have more than 4 books, that will all change. It is easier to stick with one book at a time, though.

Chris V said...

I also like to stick to one story through-and-through. HOWEVER, I'll work on another story on the side during periods of that project's "rest." For example, whenever I need to set that story aside so it can age and I can come back with a fresher perspective later (can happen a couple times; after the first draft, after a couple drafts). That's when I'll work on another project on the side until that time has passed. Then, when the first project is finally done, I'll work on the second one again while I'm subbing it.

Michael G-G said...

I'm more like your teen friend than I am you! (Except for the chocolate, that is. Unless the teen loves chocolate.)

Dayspring said...

I'm happy this week because I've finished the first draft of a novel I've been working on, on and off, for 18 months. In the process I've discovered that a MS I'm really happy with takes a while to percolate through my system and onto paper - I've finished drafts within a few months before, but they've ended up in the cannibilize-for-later-projects file. This is the first one for a while where I feel that it's worthwhile doing the edits and rewrites - and I can't wait to get started! It's my favorite part!

Ellen said...

For me it's entirely dependent on the book. With my current WIP, I'll probably let it sit for a month or so when I actually finish. With the project that I'm currently knee-deep in revising, I dove in right away because I saw enough potential (and enough things to keep fixing)that it called me to work.

So I guess for me, it varies.

Alaina said...

I used to work on two stories at a time, and often still do; I'm not under any contracts yet, and I find if I have a choice, I get more writing done. Whatever I'm having a hard time simmers in the back of my mind while I work on the other story, and since I still limit myself to two, I go with whichever is less painful when they're both bad spots. Having choices gets me through it.

I do tend to edit shortly after I'm finished, though: let it sit for a couple weeks, but by the time I'm done I know things I want to change already. I will start writing something new once it's been edited a couple times and beta-readers have it, but they get it for months. I don't want to sit that long.

AG said...

I revise. And revise. And reinvent. Then revise. Seriously, I've revised and rewritten and rebirthed WICKED SPIRITS more times than I can count. I'm finally satisfied with the drafts that are currently with *most* agents and I am FINALLY working on the YA thriller that's been on my mind a lot.

I don't have lots of drafts in drawers; I have lots of outlines in drawers. I really want to perfect each piece to a fault, so I don't like starting a new project unless I'm really ultimately happy. Which, is kind of rare. Still, I'm 10k into this new work which means I'm happy with my old one, you know?

Leigh Ann said...

For both my completed MSs, I've done one story at a time - first draft right on through CPs, revisions, and line edits, till it's query-ready. Nothing more than random jots and ideas for the next MS while I'm engaged in a current one.

BUT. I've planned to query both of those MSs. Not sure I'm going to query this one - in fact, I'm thinking I won't. So, that'll go right in the drawer, and then on to the next one, unless I've got no new idea (God forbid, the horror!) Because no way I can stop writing altogether.

Suzi said...

I have a ton sitting in the drawer waiting to be edited. I got into that writing mode and they all came out. Now I'm actually querying my first and it was hard to pick which one to concentrate on next--I love them all in different ways.

Melissa Sarno said...

All I know is that I am amazed at the pace in which people write. At this point in my life, with a full time job, I can only write a novel a year, one at time, finish a draft, then edit. It's slow-going!

Helene said...

I'm currently polishing one, planning to completely overhaul another, and trying to finish something else. So...all of the above?

Anita Saxena said...

I'm very monagamous with my characters and stories. But I do need to distance myself from them for weeks at a time in between polishing and revisions.

Cortney Pearson said...

I have two finished mss that I'm querying right now and I've just started a new idea that I'm really getting into. I sometimes wonder if I'm crazy to have so much going at once! :)

Jessica Negron said...

I can't write more than one novel at once, but I tend to plan and write at the same time. If I'm working on a project, it doesn't stop me from jotting down notes about characters, scenes, and other ideas about unrelated projects. I don't like to let ideas sit in my mind because I will, inevitably, forget them and will hate myself for it.

But I never start actually writing the story for a new project unless the first one is relatively "complete."

Kate Larkindale said...

I tend to stick with one until it's done, although because I usually start a new book while another is out with betas, I almost always do revisions and tweaks on the old one as notes come in.

Then, by the time the previous book is ready to query, I'm a good way into the new one, and starting to jot notes about the next.

Cheerful Hiker said...

I always have another idea for a book that I'm dying to start, but I know that if I do I'll never go back and revise my completed first draft. I love writing first drafts and find revision much less interesting.

an author said...

When I'm writing a first draft, I need to finish that before I can move onto another project. I might have big (or little) chunks with notations like 'this writing is shit, revise heavily later', but on days when I'm writing poorly, I tend to let myself write poorly to move the story along rather than move onto an easier project for the day.

It's a different story when I'm editing - especially first pass editing. I let myself take days off, and occasionally, if I'm lucky, new story ideas get birthed out of that down time. It's then I allow myself to outline only - knowing I can go back to the new project when I'm finished with the first pass edit.

I try to be really regimented with myself and work best with structure. If I didn't I'd have a plethora of unfinished projects and nothing complete.

Dana said...

I'm slow and steady (as in 1 and 1/2 years slow).

I am too easily distracted, so working on only one at a time fits me best. But, I have started jotting down some notes in a little green composition notebook on a second idea. (This could be trouble.)

Kelly said...

I tend to work on one at a time, for the most part. Sometimes, though, ideas come that I want to make sure I don't lose. Then I write the first page of that story. So, I don't have full manuscripts, but I do have a bunch of page ones in a drawer. When I finish the novel I'm focused on, the question is always which first page to choose.

DJ said...

I used to be puppy dog loyal to my main MS, but now I've discovered it's better if I go where the energy flows, so if a new idea comes to me, I get some down on paper and start in on the research (probably because I love research!) I've also decided it helps me to step away from my main project to give it time to breathe and my mind time to explore new possibilities. When I start dreaming of that story again, I know it's time to take it out and start back in.

Obviously I'm not on any kind of schedule right now. I work well under deadlines, but when I don't have to, I like to let the imagination flow and see where it takes me!

PS~ Loved the "MASH" reference, Mittens! We're watching "Designing Women" DVD's right now and I swear I've picked up an accent!

Beth Hull said...

Exactly what Kate Larkindale said above. One at a time, with some brief notes on potential new projects.

Except...I've been drawn to a few short story ideas, and I feel okay working on one of those even while I'm drafting a novel-length project.

lexcade said...

i can only do one at a time. i'll write on a second book while editing the other, but the book i'm editing gets my primary focus.

Carmen said...

I have one querying, two stewing, one about 1/3 of the way done and a notebook of beginnings that have come to me while I was in the shower. No wonder I feel like a rubberband! :)

Joey Francisco said...

I just finished my first manuscript, and am in midst of revisions, but have actually written several chapters in a sequel and in another unrelated project.

It would be safe to suffice I am a one woman-one manuscript kind of gal, just as you are. I'm loyal and true and will remain so until my manuscript is either 1)picked up by an agent and published or 2)rejected by every darn agent in the known galaxy.

Then and only then shall I fully commit myself to the next one. Fwiw, I wholeheartedly believe in this manuscript and am going to give it every chance in the world. Query is raging to go, but will hold back until final revision is done.

Best of luck Authoress with your fabulous new wip!

SMKrafty said...

While I have several WiP, I rarely have a stack of first drafts percolating and waiting for editing and polishing. I tend to finish a story and set it aside or give it to my 'first round editor' who can make sense of my sometimes disjointed stream of consciousness writing while I move onto a new story. When first edits are done, I then will go back and start second round edits and pretty much edit until it is polished, so I have a new work and editing to move between-keeps my mind and perspective fresh.

A.C. Turcotte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A.C. Turcotte said...

I completely lack the ability to multi-task. In pretty much every aspect of my life, I need to do one thing at a time. Or absolutely nothing will actually get done. Luckily, I'm getting a lot better at writing with any sense of regularity. I spent seven years (yes, I said years) working on the first two parts of a trilogy before I realized they were basically warm up novels and didn't need to ever see the light of day. Since, I've written two novels. One at a time. Start with planning, plotting, and scheming. Write the chapters in order. Edit until my eyes won't stay open and my fingers are numb. Send out queries. Then, and only then, will I start a new project. And the lesson learned from those seven years? I won't write sequels anymore. Not until I get a book published, and am contracted to do so. I don't want to waste more time.