Last Friday, I finished writing the rough draft of my second Werestory novel. So I spent the weekend watching TV, right? Nope. I spent it going over a rough draft I wrote years ago. Enough years ago that I’m not sure how many years we’re talking about. I vaguely remembered writing the book, which I’m tentatively calling Love and Magic, but couldn’t have told you much about it because it never received more than minimal revision and was written NaNo WriMo style, meaning it took me under a month to barf the story out. My expectations when I opened the file were not high.
I was pleasantly surprised though. I like this story quite a bit, and love the main characters. (I tend to remember stories I’ve written primarily by recalling the love interest, and I did remember adoring this one.) Not only do I think I can get this thing into publishable shape, I think I may do it before I release Werestory 2. Although maybe I won’t… I honestly don’t know which one needs less work, and that’s making it hard to decide. Either way, I see both books being released in the next year.
It’s a strange feeling to read something you wrote so long ago you don’t remember writing it. It feels like reading someone else’s work, but it also doesn’t because the style is so close to yours. Not your exact style anymore, of course, but the style that evolved into your current one.
This rough was choppier than normal, something I started addressing in this pass over. You see, once upon a time, I wrote without scene transitions. It was just a bunch of hard cuts, like you’d see in a movie. But early beta feedback said it wasn’t really working for me, so I stopped doing it that way. It occurs to me though that since I started insisting on transitions rather than cuts, I haven’t completed a novel-length work in less than three months. Considering that I used to be able to beat the NaNo challenge of fifty thousand words in one month in half the allotted time, this could well be an argument against including transitions in my roughs.
Going through Love and Magic was a lot like beta reading, except better, because when I saw a problem, I could change it rather than making a note suggesting someone else change it. There’s something really empowering about making changes to something you don’t remember writing. Is this, I wonder, how professional editors feel?
This wasn’t the first time I’ve gone back to a world I created years ago. My very first novel, written when I was sixteen, was the basis for my serial Washed Up. The main difference was that the original text on that one was unusable and several plot points needed to be changed completely. (Like the one about who the main character ends up with romantically. I can hardly believe I created my original ending and thought it was a happy one.) Going back to it was fun, but not in the same way rediscovering something that only needs a few tweaks to be presented to beta readers was.
Over the next year, I have three different novels I want to revise. (Werestory 2, Love and Sorcery, and Washed Up) But even more intimidating is the fact that I know what I’m working on after that, which is to visit another story I made up years ago, this time one about fairies. It’s an entire series and should keep me busy for some time to come. It’s going to require more rewriting than Love and Sorcery, I’m pretty sure. It has flaws like the first book not having a real plot… There’s much to be said for a first book that sets up a series, but I am a firm believer in each book having its own plot in addition to the series arc.
And the third Werestory? I don’t know when that will come around. Or if it will, really. Like Book 1, Book 2 is a very stand-alone story. However, I’m certain that even as I am now sick of writing rough drafts and am itching to do revisions, eventually I’m going to be sick of revising and want to create something new. That could be Book 3. Or I could go back to that aborted space girls story… Or revisit the adult dragon series I started… The outlook is hazy. Ask again later.
It’s kind of nice not to know the answer, honestly. I’ve long been outlining novels, but not my life. Is it crazy that I have so much planned or odd that this is the first time I’ve been in this situation?
What about you other writers out there? How far do you look forward? And how far back?