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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | “It Lives!”

“It Lives!”

This was me last Friday …


Yes, at long last, Franken-first-draft has been completed! It came in at 84k words, about 10k more than I want. Pretty typical for me. I can knock that back, no problem. I hit all the plot points in my sketchy outline, and so far my critique partners are mostly satisfied with my conclusion in its nebulous role as “Could be the end of the series finale, but there’s room for more.”

For those of you who followed my Eating an Elephant post on writing a climactic battle scene that was too big for me, here’s how I handled it:

1. Having realized in my Practice Room conversation with Maria Mainero that I don’t like reading huge battle scenes — so why would I write one? — I decided to separate my core characters from the main part of the fighting, sending them off to an adjacent location where they would be aware of the fighting, but free to do the things I needed them to do.

2. What I’m lacking in the first draft is a good reason for them to be separated, but I have an idea for handling that in Draft 2.

3. I abandoned ideas for events where the only purpose was to parade out one of the minor characters who appeared earlier in the story. They were distracting and pointless. Instead, those characters are briefly seen in falling action, so the reader knows they were present, but in the part of the battle we didn’t see.

4. Then I worked through each of my necessary plot points as planned. There are clunky places and some bumpy segues, but I stopped trying to get it perfect on the first try and just wrote it. I ate the elephant, bite by bite.

This is the point where a lot of people put the draft aside for a few weeks “to rest.” I’ve heard some writers claim this is an essential part of the process.

They must be writers who aren’t on a deadline.

However, even without a deadline, I never rest between Draft 1 and 2. I have a different procedure. On Wednesday, I’ll share my normal method of moving from the first to the second draft.

Meanwhile, Joanne Fritz and Michael Gettel-Gilmartin are both featuring me and The Eighth Day on their blogs today! Thank you, Joanne and Michael! You an also see reviews for The Eighth Day on my sidebar.

17 Responses to “It Lives!”

  1. Cynthia says:

    Sometimes I introduce characters early on in my stories, and I realize as I get deeper in my writing, that I can either minimize or maximize their roles some more. Or better yet, combine characters into one. But these are things I don’t often pick up on until I’m in my second draft, at least. That’s nice you are able to take a step back and look at your story with this objectivity.

    Have a good writing week!

  2. woot woot! Sounds like you’ve got a sound plan for revisions. Hope I’m on the list to beta!;)

  3. Congrats on finishing it!

  4. Lexa Cain says:

    I used to only write a chapter I was sure of, but now I’m doing like you – just get it out and fix it later. And I never wait between drafts because by the time I finish, the beginning is like a strange animal I don’t remember writing at all! lol

    You’re doing great! Keep it up! 🙂

  5. Wow congrats on finishing Dianne. You’ve earned a cupcake!! 🙂

  6. Linda G. says:

    Woo-hoo! Congrats on waking your monster! Now it’s time to go hide the scars. 😉

  7. Jemi Fraser says:

    I need to let my drafts sit – but I think a lot of that is from the fact I don’t work with an outline so my draft is always a surprise and I need to let it filter to see what will stay and what will go! 🙂

  8. Tiana Smith says:

    CONGRATULATIONS 🙂 I need to let mine sit, but usually not for too long, and not right after the first draft. After the first draft, I go right into draft two. After that draft is done, I usually need to let it sit for a few weeks.

  9. Steven says:

    Rest?! What’s that? I know what you mean about having to constantly keep moving. It means you’re hot, which is a good position to be in.

  10. mshatch says:

    I knew you could do it 🙂

  11. J E Oneil says:

    Whee! Good for you. Meeting goals is always nice. It sounds like you’re pretty good about culling unnecessary scenes (I wish I had that talent!). Keep up the good work on draft 2.

  12. YAY! Congrats! You did it (but I never doubted you could)!

    And every writer is different. I know you don’t like to wait to start revising. I know some who wait weeks, some months. I need a couple of weeks, at least, to get a fresh eye. But I don’t think I need three months. 🙂

    Thanks for the mention.

  13. Robin says:

    I love that you share your process with us. As someone who is closing in on finishing that first draft, I appreciate it.

    I am getting closer to running a review for The Eighth Day. Do you want me to alert you ahead of time????

  14. Oh, congrats! Good job on getting through this draft. Sometimes I leave the first draft to sit, but if I know exactly what I want to do in the next draft, I’ll get to it and leave the marinating for after. Then again, I don’t have deadlines yet for my novels. Thanks for sharing your process. It’s really cool to see.

  15. Go you! Finishing is a huge deal! And I love how you broke it down and didn’t worry too much about the connections. The only way I finish is to do the same. Just keep writing, it doesn’t matter if it stinks! (That’s my mantra).

  16. Thanks for sharing your process. I’m one that ‘rests’ between drafts but never for very long unless another project calls me away.

  17. Hi Dianne .. well done and so pleased you were able to pull it all together and get it finished .. first draft is fine .. cheers Hilary