Rough Drafting With the Pajamazon

shall-we-beginSo I'm starting work on a new project. (Sort of new. I did a shit ton of research on this project a few months ago, but due to life, other works, surgery, etc etc, I let it get away from me.) Anyway, this project is not part of the C# 'verse, but a stand-alone alternate history sort of thing set across three timelines. Based on that, you might think it's sci-fi, but no. It's more of a whimsical thing along the lines of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but with far less in the way of supernatural beasties. Sorry I'm being glib, but this isn't something I really want to go into much detail on yet. It's still in the earliest stages of development. Not only that, I'm struggling with structure.

But, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what rough drafting something new is like for me. 

First off, I'm highly distractable. (As evidenced by the fact that I'm writing this blog rather than putting words into the new file.) I will do almost anything other than be forced to stare at a blank word doc or notebook page, and therefore, ignore the work.


Once I do get going... oy, those first 1000 words can be the hardest. In my first volley today on the new piece (aka: WH), I cranked out 450 words in a half hour. Now, I'm a little rusty lately (see above list of life stuff), but that is a good, steady pace.

The entire time I was writing, I was judging it. Fussing, backtracking, questioning, doubting. And that was just the first couple of pages that amounted to a very minor prologue. (I normally hate prologues, but due to the time hop nature, I feel it's necessary in this case.) When I typed, "Chapter One", though, it all fell apart. Momentum dropped and I sat there questioning every life choice I've made since 1983. (Parachute pants? Why don't I have those now?)


Anyway, the structure of WH has me somewhat flummoxed. Do I want it to be first person POV in this time period while this one is third omni? Do I want present tense in the...well, present, and past in the past?

Then there's the whole "Where do I begin?" question. Is it here? Or here? Or does the story really start here?


And that's when my "Inner Neil Gaiman" (see Falafelosophy) reminded me to stop judging my story, I've just started writing it. He also then told me that worrying about chapter headings and how to handle dates or clever fonts is akin to planning out the feng shui of a house when the foundation hasn't even been poured.

So I tell myself, just write.

But that's hard to do, isn't it?

Honestly, this is partially why I'm not a pantser. I need to plan and have a blue print of where the structural supports are, where are my exits and what is my safe word? I need all of that before I get in. If I hit a point in the manuscript where research needs to be done, I can't just skip it and come back. I have to do the research right then and "make it right". For someone so chaotic, I cling to my order where I can.

Anyway...rough drafting is, I'm fairly certain, one of the most oddly satisfying yet horribly frustrating parts of my job.

It's like a relationship. I love that point where you're about 30% through the work and the muse is well lubricated. You've been together for a bit, but you're still in the early and exciting stages, still able to surprise one another, but you've established a good rhythm.

Dramatic representation of this spot in the narrative. (by icefloeartsoul)

This part, though. This is weird. I've done the research and tested out the idea, so courtship is over. Now we're committing. This phase is like trying to feel out a new partner...those first few dates where you're not sure if what you're saying is really funny or if they're just laughing to be polite.


I hate this part.

But, that's just me whining. No one else can tell this story. Me sitting here describing the process doesn't get it done. Nor does playing video games or watching YouTube, or fussing about the structure. Tell the story. Build the house, then do the decorating.

It's time to write. Your safe word is Poughkeepsie.