* Put the streamers away. It’s only the first draft.
I’ve been waiting SO LONG to be able to make this post.
I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF DIVIDED THEY FALL LAST NIGHT!
You have no idea how freaking happy I am right now. I’m still on a high.
Last night, I slept SO well.
Yes, I know I’ve used this GIF before. It’s as relevant now as it was back then, if not more so.
So Divided They Fall has been in my mind since around 2002, making it technically 12 years old now, although it didn’t exist in its current idea form until around 2009.
The DTF2002 (that’s my special name for it–it’s code, see if you can figure it out) outline was as, um, “imaginative” as the very first outline of The Genesis (which had the door knockers that talked, and the genetic experiments that also talked, and the injections that could make vampires immune to sunlight for a time, and the car with the SUCKIT licence plate…I should stop telling the world about my early drafts. It’s really not good for anybody).
Its main focus was this shape-shifting spider demon (called Dark Nation, because I’m awesome and also like to steal things from Final Fantasy VII from time to time) that had the ability to change specific events in time, and this demon used her power to stop Catrina from ever being turned into a vampire, for some reason. I think she wanted the Genesis power, or to get in on the Clan, or just to get into Fox’s pants or something, and Catrina was getting in her way–I don’t remember, it was over a decade ago.
Anyway, while the idea was obviously gold, it had absolutely no value in terms of the series (plus, it broke a lot of things, because…well, because a lot of things that happen in the series are Catrina’s fault–mostly indirectly, but still–and let’s face it, if we’re being 100% honest, things probably would be better for everyone–at least for anyone who isn’t Catrina…and actually no probably for Catrina, too–if she’d never been turned).
Maybe when the first series is finished (ha!), we can revisit something along this line, to ask the question of whether changing the past could improve the future. (Future spoiler alert, the answer will be no.)
I started working on the real serious draft of DTF in March 2013, then it meandered for months.
I decided to pull my finger out and concentrate on it for NaNoWrimo 2013. That didn’t go too well, either.
Then I took a little break for Christmas, and I vowed that I would have a draft finished by the end of January. Then February. Then March. And so on.
The more astute followers of my progress might have noticed that I took the countdown timer down a while ago.
I just kept putting it off, and either being lazy or just plain overwhelmed by the amount of work that I needed to do in order to get a complete, working draft.
I hated writing this book. Well, no, perhaps hate is too strong a word. I didn’t hate it. In fact, while I was actually doing it, I loved it, warts and all.
I think this post probably sums it up best.
Writing this book frustrated me, perhaps is a better way to phrase it. Or planning it frustrated me.
Back in the day, I used to write a book out of order. I’d do the classic idiot thing and write all the scenes I was looking forward to writing the most first.
Helpful advice for you, if you’re just starting out on writing a full-length novel: this is a terrible way to write a book. It’s pretty self-explanatory, really, since if you write all the bits you really want to write, what you’re left with when you’re done with those is all the scenes you don’t really feel so much love for. And then you don’t want to do them. And then they don’t get done. And what you’re left with is a bunch of scenes that don’t really fit together and no drive to fill in the bits in between, an unfinished not-a-novel.
At least, that’s what happened with me. And I’ve been trying not to write like that anymore. And it’s hard.
But anyway, the important thing is it’s finished for now!
And now…some exciting graphs!
Total word count over time.
I didn’t start recording the daily word counts until around August.
The 20k before that day is a mystery, oooOOOOooooo!
And here’s my EditMinion Report Card:
All looks good, in summary! It’s only when we get into the details where it starts to fall apart. Also, not entirely sure why it’s saying there’s only 94,000 words in there. I think it might be because EditMinion.com has a limitation to the number count. I did write 115k, I swear!
Lastly, here’s a lovely-looking word cloud, showing the most used words in the manuscript.
Seems Devaux is the main character in this book, after all!
(If you want to make your own word clouds, you can generate them at Wordle.net)
Now, I’m a firm believer in the quantity over quality, when it comes to first drafts. Because you have all these ideas flying at you from every angle, you should just throw them down onto the page. Yes, they might be tragically pathetic, and they might not work, but you could find one very important snippet of character development in that terrible scene, which you can use somewhere else.
It’s like the idea of comparing writing a novel to carving a sculpture. You start out with this big block of clay, and you have to make it into something beautiful. Somehow. Using your mind.
This is only a first draft, an alpha version, if you will. It’s very inconsistent, tonally and thematically. The characters are all over the place, in particular the new main protagonists, Devaux and Damien. Catrina is consistent, particularly on being stupid and doing stupid things. I really don’t mean to make her that way (or do I?), but it just seems to happen in the early stages. The biggest changes will be making her decisions less stupid, but with the same results.
The two new POV characters aren’t really solid yet. I know I’ve failed terribly with at least one of them. I’ve never written anything from the Agent’s point of view before, except for that one scene from Nathaniel Rae, and he was King of the Dicks, so writing that was easy. Damien, on the other hand, is supposed to be this complex character who’s supposed to go through some incredible character development, and that’s…just not there yet. He’s just Nathaniel Rae with blonde hair right now.
This draft is not for public consumption, because, in the words of Greg Davies, “It’s fucking awful.”
I sent it to my two alpha readers last night, and they can tear it apart for a while, and theeeeeeeeeen, I’ll be taking it back to start the next monstrous task of the beta draft.
I expect the beta draft will be due around late July/early August.
And now, I’m going to go take a break, maybe play some WoW, or just bum around on Tumblr for the next month.
I’m FINISHED! Weeeeeeeeeeee!
Want to be a Beta?
If you want to be a beta reader for me, you can sign up to my list here. Just bear in mind that since this is the second in a series–unlike From The Ashes, which is a companion novel–I will need you to have read The Genesis first.
I need blunt, honest people to work with. I don’t want things sugar-coating.
I appreciate that I’m not really “selling it” to you with the above post, since all I’m doing is calling it dreadful. But I promise you, it will be better by the time it reaches beta stage.