Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Draft Eleven of the Epic Novel

Six years ago, I completed Draft 11 of Book 1 of the Epic Novel. After five years and eleven drafts, I was so sick of that story, I wanted to throw it out the window. I put it away before I'd even finished typing the draft. This spring, when I began working on the Epic Novel once more, I went straight to Book 2, knowing I need to figure out the rest of the story before I can redraft Book 1.

A few weeks ago, I had the sudden urge to reread that old Draft 11. The draft was horrible--I mean, very, very rough. I made myself laugh with all of my "He tilted his head quizzically" and "He raised his eyebrows skeptically." The text was all floating dialogue and action. Very little description or character development. Many scenes did not need to be included. They did not move the plot forward or reveal character. Even I became confused with the plethora of characters, and I had created them all. When I thought about it, I immediately counted eight extraneous characters. So, not my best work.

At the same time, I wrote the draft before I had ever had any formal instruction in creative writing. I could tell when I had taken Comp II at college because the writing drastically improved at that point. The draft wasn't great, but it was a rough draft, and one I needed to write to explore the story.

The more I read, the more I became amazed with this story. The story is there, the characters are there. They just need work. I know I have to make some tough decisions: which characters do I cut? Which ones really are unnecessary, as much as I love them? How much of the characters' complicated back-stories is necessary for the reader to understand motivation, and how much is just too much?

I'm excited. I have already learned so much from this story. Someday, I'll finish it, and I hope that others learn as much from it as I have.
Anne M.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Anne After the MFA

After a year and a half hiatus from blogging, an update seems in order: I have my MFA! Yes, nearly a year ago, I graduated with my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. The first six months AMFA (After the MFA), I didn't touch a book, and I didn't pick up a pen. I needed a break. This spring, however, I dove back in. You see, for ::::does mental count:::: five and a half years, I had writer's block--including the two years I attended grad school. Don't ask me how I got through; it was by the grace of God! Every piece I sent in for workshop was an idea I had come up with before the onset of writer's block. I had an okay time actually writing (although it was like pulling teeth sometimes), but coming up with new ideas was out of the question.

Well, I figured out some things about my life, and other people figured out some things about my life, and God opened my eyes to some things about my life. Once I got those things mostly straightened out--voilĂ ! Story ideas out of the woodwork. I began a Young Adult fairy tale retelling, but after only twenty pages, I felt called back to my "epic novel," the story I've been working on for ten and a half years (minus five and a half years of writer's block). The story has gone through many evolutions already, and several different names, hence the affectionate project title of Epic Novel.

I am daunted. This project could take years more to finish. My current estimate is that it will be a four book series. Yikes! But I want to be published now! (wines a voice in my head that sounds amazingly like Veruca Salt) The wonderful thing about this story--I am incredibly passionate about it. I've known these characters longer than I've known some of my best friends. The story intrigues me, absorbs me. The result? So long writer's block, hello obsession. I'm back to struggling to balance writing with all the other aspects of life. It's a good problem to have.

I hope to keep this blog updated more regularly now, if for no other reason than I need an outlet for all my writer ramblings (there's only so much my sweet husband can take). Until next time, I remain writerly yours,
Anne M.