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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | What I’ve Been Up To

What I’ve Been Up To

This has been me for the past two weeks or so:

Not Darth Vader. The poor guy hanging in the Sith Lord’s grip, unable to get away. The role of Darth Vader in my life was filled by my WIP. It had me by the throat and would not let go.
Even at work, I walked around muttering to myself in the voices of my characters, drawing little maps on scraps of paper, and choreographing action scenes. Yes, I was into the Climactic Crunch – the part of the book I’ve been visualizing for so long.
Over the 3-day President’s Weekend, I wrote 9,000 words. My feet finally touched the ground around noon on Monday when I typed THE END on the first draft of THE EIGHTH DAY #2.  Phew. *Rubs neck.* That was intense.
I started the draft on December 4. Seventy-seven days from beginning to end.  I know that might not seem like a feat to anyone who’s succeeded at NaNo – producing 50,000 words in 30 days.  But this was the fastest I’ve ever written a manuscript. And it finished at 75,000 words, about 10k over budget. That’s typical. In anything I draft, I write AT LEAST 10,000 unnecessary words. What that says about me … well, draw your own conclusions.
Most people like to give their manuscripts a rest after completing a first draft. Not me. My first drafts are pretty exploratory, and I usually don’t discover the heart of the story and the soul of every character until the end. Not even in a sequel, as it turns out. By the time I’ve completed the first draft, I have a laundry list of revisions to make for the second draft, and I’m ready to roll right in.  The second draft goes out to beta readers … and then I take a break from it.
What’s got you by the throat lately?
Do you rest after a first draft? Or plunge right into revisions?

21 Responses to What I’ve Been Up To

  1. that’s great! Even if the majority of work gets done in the revision process, it must still feel great to have your raw material ready! Hope I’m on your list of betas!

  2. I admit to plunging right in more often than not, but it’s usually because I’m on a deadline. My agent likes to sell my books before I write them and that means I end up having to draft and revise on deadline.

  3. Our process is pretty similar–CONGRATS, Dianne! My husband says he always knows I’m in draft mode b/c I space out and mutter to myself. HA!

  4. I usually let mine sit because I do revise as I go. Congrats Dianne on getting so much done.

  5. Sounds like awesome progress, Dianne! Good for you.

    Personally, I’m lucky to finish a MS a year, but I have to admit, each one does seem to go slightly more quickly than the last.

  6. My kids give me a hard time because I zone out all the time. They know when I do that, I’m thinking about my book. lol

    I try to give my ms space after the first draft. I managed to give my current WIP a week. It was supposed to be two weeks. I gave into the temptation. I’m sending the current version out soon. That’s a great way to force me to give it space. 😀

  7. Linda G. says:

    I think that’s super-fast for a draft–kudos!

    May you find some breathing room soon. 🙂

    P.S. I only managed 6,000 words over the long weekend. That’s pretty good for me. 9,000 would thrill me beyond belief. *grin*

  8. Tonja says:

    That’s a great pace, especially considering you have a job too.

  9. 9,000 words over the 3-day weekend? You’re a writing machine!!

  10. SA Larsenッ says:

    So awesome you are making major progress! I’m finally finding direction with this sequel. Problem was I had so many possibles causing mayhem in my head I couldn’t find direction. But after an amazing chat with one of my CPs, I found the main road I need to take. Yay! (Ooh, and I heard from my agent yesterday, so things are finally moving along there, too.)

  11. I kinda do revisions during the first draft, like dividing the MS into acts. After the first ten chapters, and go through them all again to make sure it’s consistent before moving on. I catch inconsistencies, weak foreshadows and improve on yet-to-be-written ideas when I do this. 🙂

  12. mshatch says:

    Wow, I still can’t believe how fast you wrote this draft. I’d be happy to get 9,000 words a week nevermind a long weekend!

  13. Woohoo! Congrats on writing ‘the end’. I wait before I dig into revisions.

  14. I bet it’s nice to be able to breathe again! I plunge right into revisions too. My manuscripts make me a little bit like a dog with a bone.

  15. Pk Hrezo says:

    I’m usually Vader with the kids. lol

    I love the break period from an ms. That much needed brain rest is so imperative.

    I’m finding other things to do instead of tackling my next story. I have to finish it before school’s out or there will be no writing for me!

  16. WOW! I’m duly impressed with how quickly you got this first draft written. Good for you! And I don’t think overwriting by 10K is bad at all. I had to cut about 25K.

    I can “see” what I’ve written better if I give myself a little time and space before digging into the revisions, so I let it rest.

  17. After a 2 month (plus three unintentional extra weeks because I was really sick)break from the first draft of my WIP I have the colored Sharpies out and am going crazy on it. I’m trying a different revision method this time and I hope it leads me to the missing scenes that I know it needs.

    Hardest thing is distraction. I have other stuff I’m supposed to also be promoting right now so no matter what I’m doing I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something else.

    Great work over the weekend! I really can’t wait to read these books.


  18. Lexa Cain says:

    I think it’s awesome you wrote an ms in 77 days! You have a lot of responsibilities outside writing, so it’s a very impressive accomplishment. Yay for you!!
    And no, I don’t rest after completing a WIP, but plunge right into revisions. 🙂

  19. DL Hammons says:

    My manuscript has a hold of me…but its not by the throat!! 😛

  20. Congratulations on your accomplishment. 75,000 words is a lot…just over 1,000 a day for 72 days. 🙂

    I hear your newest wip is really good.

  21. Joanne Fritz says:

    You’re incredible, Dianne! That’s fantastic that you wrote so much so quickly, and working full time too. It takes me at least six months to write a rough draft and I have to take a short break before plunging in to revisions. I’m sure it’s slightly different for every writer.

    What has me by the throat? Agh! I thought writing a query was hard until I realized I had to write a synopsis too…