Today is the last day of Camp Nanowrimo July, and I am officially a WINNER! That certificate is fancy, and such nice validation. What’s also nice is that now I know I’m capable of editing a novel. If I can get through draft two, I can push my way through draft ten or beyond. I know I can. (But hopefully it will never be thirty. Shannon Hale really shouldn’t have told us that it took her thirty drafts to complete Goose Girl. Talk about no end in sight…)
There is still plenty wrong with the novel. I’m beginning to realize that you can’t just take it all in one fell swoop like you can with a short story. There are too many words, and too many skeins to hold onto as you weave the story. My first draft was messy. It was missing chunks of things, it was full of textbook-like explanation, and it kept repeating itself. The story arc is better now. There are no chunks missing, and the repeats have been rearranged to appear in their proper place.
I haven’t read this draft as a whole document yet, so I can’t put my finger on exactly what’s wrong. I know immediately that something is, though. I learned in my Novel class last semester that there are several differences between a Novel and a Novella. A Novel is a story over 50,000 words, and a Novella is a story between 25,000 and 50,000 words. Beyond just word count, a Novella usually has one main story line, and maybe one sub-plot (maybe). There is not time to do justice to more. A Novel usually has a main story line and up to five sub-plots, although two or three is more common. Blue Gentian currently clocks in at about 45,000 words. It has three sub-plots. You see? I already know I’m not doing the sub-plots justice, that there is a lot missing. Next is to find out why, where, and how to fix it.
Draft four will be for Character and dialogue. Draft five will be to make sure the threading and symbolism is working. Draft six will be for anything else that I feel I missed, up to and including editing for chapter length. Chapters with action should be shorter. They’ll feel like they’re moving faster.
After draft six, I’ll show it to people. Brian gets first dibs. He is my most thorough critic, and best source of advice. I have a feeling my father would also like to read it. Once I’ve done draft seven (or maybe eight), I’ll put it on Critique Circle. Then I’ll write draft nine…
It sounds like a long row to hoe, right? It really does. But 50,000 words looks like a far cry from 0 words on day one of Nano. In small chunks after thirty days, though, it mostly looks impressive. I plan to be very impressed with my novel once it’s done, too. I’m confident I can do it. After all, I already have draft two under my belt. What’s a few more?
(Holy crap, what did I just get myself into?)