Tag Archives: first draft

Doubt Dancing Back to Idaho with JSM

Yesterday I left Doubt, the raven, at home and went out for a stellar day on the Space Coast you can read about here. I left Doubt at home on purpose for three reasons: 1) He flirts with gulls. 2) He and the rocket scientist were double teaming me. And, 3) He’s learning to dance.

They are probably both right. The manuscript needs some work. It may need a massive rewrite.

I have too many characters as it is, IMHO, and the RS thinks I should add more. Doubt shakes his head, and then nods. I think he’s trying to tell me, “No, you don’t need more characters…what you need is to rewrite and separate these two crimes into two books so both can be developed better.”

Anyway, that is where I am today.

I have a plane ticket for Doubt. I couldn’t see putting him in a package in this heat, so he should be back in Idaho in a few hours. We are ten minutes from the airport. I am keeping a few feathers he lost when we went over the MS together…just as reminders.

Look out C.S. Boyack…here he comes! He’s learned some dance moves, too.

If you haven’t seen JustSomeMotion (JSM) dance, you are missing a real treat. Put this on the full screen and turn up the volume. I love this guy and have watched a hundred times. He reminds me of my son…ten years ago. I don’t know if my son, Bryan, could move like this today, but he used to. After they have been gone about ten years, you really miss them!

First Read

The alpha reader has finished my MS. He loved the story. He particularly enjoyed the last two chapters and the way that it ended. He really likes the sidekick, Brandi.

Initially, I decided I would not share anything remotely negative about the series. We already know that I am unconventional, and do not always follow rules. I am told we must praise our work as if it’s the best thing since sliced bread. But a first draft is exactly that, a time to examine what might not be working.

Maybe you don’t have any problem areas in your writing and kudos to you if you don’t. But more often than not, with a first draft it is time to take a realistic look at your product and decide where it needs tweaking. There may be parts that need revising, rewriting, or developing further. Better now, than after it has hit the market.

When I first published Red Clay and Roses, I did not know about alpha readers and beta readers. That resulted in putting a product on the market that needed a revision. I learned from first reviews that there was disconnection that wasn’t working all that well in the very first chapter. I revised it, but still didn’t spend the time I should have smoothing it out. I would like to think I have learned from that experience.

I do not want to rush Naked Alliances, or the series. I have some work to do.

I spent a lot of time and energy on developing the character of Brandi. I did not give my main character, Richard, the detective, as much attention and it shows. He needs a life beyond these crime adventures.

The rocket scientist says that he is likable, but flat. Where I was trying to show action and dialog, I neglected narrative and character development. Richard also needs familiars.

The story moves really fast. Though it is 27 chapters (maybe more when I am done), the time spanned is about a week. That’s not a long time to get to know someone. I did not want to write a lot of back story, so I opted to let Richard develop as the story moved along. It really did not work out as effectively as I had hoped and I understand why.

He’s so busy. A lot is going on. Everything around him is new to him. People, settings, and the type of work assignment he has, all new. Nothing is familiar, comfortable. He’s out of his element, but you, the reader, don’t know what his element is yet. He starts out as a bit of a loner, but it is told in third person, and he is hard to get to know in this way. It is difficult to sidle up to him, identify and feel he’s your friend.

So that is what I am doing now. I am working on Richard’s character development, giving him a bit of a life outside of his work. Narrating in a few things to introduce him, and adding a few experiences that let you know who he is before everything in his life suddenly changes.

This may take a couple of weeks, maybe more. I am going to need a couple of pairs of virgin eyes when I am done. I would like to have two people read. Edit and then have two more people read. I do have two beta readers lined up.

It is an off the wall crime caper. I am working hard at doing this right. I don’t want you more confused than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles, so have patience with me.

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Central Florida has never been hotter! The first in The Naked Eye Series Novels has Richard Noggin, P.I. scouting the swinger’s venues and a nudist resort to solve a vicious murder case and bring down a crime boss. A young Asian girl’s unexpected appearance on the doorstep of a gay club sets off events that have him struggling to protect her and a fighting to survive.

Sunday Synopsis: First Draft Accomplished

Hi folks! You may have been wondering if I dropped off the edge of the earth as I haven’t been floating around as much as I used to. That’s because I have been very busy writing for the past month and four days. I started this project in November at 2340 words and parked it until May 4th, when I felt a strong need to get back to it.

Today I wrote my final words in the first draft on my first crime novel.

It is sitting at 57, 678. Yay me!

Now the real work begins. I haven’t done my first read through, but I thought I would jot down some notes about what I’m feeling about where we are.

I have few things I am eager to hear from my beta readers about. Mainly having to do with POV, the number of suspects, and running two major interrelated plotlines.

There is murder mystery and there is organized crime, each aspect offering flavors of crime fiction that can be very different. I know some people like solving puzzles, putting the pieces together, and others want high thriller action and suspense. My hope is that I provided both without disappointing one reader or another.

There are a number of people involved. There is a family law firm, and there is a nudist resort where the ancillary characters come from. That’s a lot of players, and I am hoping it isn’t too confusing.

I basically went in alternating POV between my two main characters, the detective, Richard, and his sidekick, Brandi. At about the mid-point, it is primarily Richard’s POV. I do have one chapter dedicated to my villain. There were things you, the reader, needed to know about the villain that neither Brandi nor Richard could tell you. Things only the villain could know. I also wanted to show the wickedness in a way that was indisputable.

Now, I am wondering if that might come across as too jarring, and I am thinking that to balance this, maybe I should give my murder suspects their own POV chapters. I dunno.

At any rate, it is what it is. Honestly, I didn’t set out to write the next great masterpiece. It’s genre fiction and I hoped to be entertaining.

My Alpha Reader is my husband, who reads two or three crime novels a week. He loves it all. I have told him to expect a cross between Charlotte Bronte and Tim Dorsey; Sort of a Charlotte Dorsey or a Tim Bronte. I don’t know if my writing style works with crime fiction, but the project is fun.

If you are not having fun, you need to be doing something else. Life is too short.

Serious Writing Flaws in First Draft

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I don’t like to tell other people how to write because I am no expert, but I can share my own personal experience with the process.

More than three quarters of the way through this manuscript, I went back and read a few chapters. This is a first rough draft, mind you, but I can see a tremendous amount of work in front of me.

I have a tendency to rush through TELLING you what my characters did or didn’t do. I want to spit the story out in a hurry rather than SHOWING the building of character presence.

I know a writer’s style can break the rules, and I am certain mine will. But there are some places you really can’t skimp and write effectively.

 

For example:

Which tells you most about these characters?

A) Brandi was dressing herself and applying fresh make-up as they spoke. A brunette wig would do for her plans for the day. Not too much make-up. Wearing a skin-tight, short tube skirt and a low slung sweater top, she set aside the heels in favor of her sneakers.

 

B) Brandi tugged on her hair at the mirror as they spoke. The braided black wig that she chose emphasized her African-American features, while her light coffee colored make-up delicately smoothed her Caucasian skin. A tight white tube skirt clung to an ample derrière and a low slung sweater top showed off both her heavy implanted breasts and small waist. She set aside her familiar stilettos in favor of more comfortable gym shoes to walk the streets today.

 

A)    He had thick, dark hair and tough, tanned skin.

 

B)    The Florida sun had not lightened his thick, dark hair, but had toasted and leathered his skin.

 

They don’t even seem like the same people to me. I have this vision in my mind of who these characters are, but conveying that to you properly is a challenge.

 

And emotions:

 

A)    She held her nose. “You stink. You could use a shower. They have that right over here,” she said, pointing toward the pool area.

 

B)    She turned her head, wrinkled her nose, and waved her hand in front of her face. “You smell like a chitlin boil dumped three days at the landfill! There’s soap and shampoo in the shower stalls outside by the pool.”

 

A)    After fourteen flights of stairs he was exhausted and panting. He tried to hide behind a potted plant at the end of the hall.

 

B)    After fourteen flights of stairs he was panting. He could barely walk the six feet to the end of the hall to hide behind a potted plant. His legs ached. His knees shook. Trying to stand up straight to conceal himself behind the foliage made the leaves tremble.

 

See what I mean? I’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s fun work. But we’re a long way from finished with this. This could take months.

I know the right way to write. It’s just faster and easier to write the wrong way. But that’s what makes the first draft like sliding down the slide, riding the merry-go-round, swinging high through the tree limbs, wriggling your toes in the sandbox. It’s a literary playground.

I LOVE FIRST DRAFTS!

I was originally editing as I moved along and the writing process was dragging. I was getting frustrated. I feared I was going to give it up before I got the story out there. Lose it from my mind. I gave up the method instead.

Ask me how I feel about writing when it comes time to edit.