Well, not exactly. I’ve done a lot of work in the past year, from rewriting most of The Recruited to drastically cutting back Between Two Lives so I could turn it in for honors credit. But Facing the Music, my YA contemporary, is my first shot in nearly a year at working on something new on my own terms.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not neglecting the other two stories. Several agents still have all or parts of The Recruited, and I’m not quite done with it yet. And, like I mentioned in my last post, I’m planning to add to Between Two Lives for National Novel Writing Month this year. But there’s something promising about Facing the Music.
For one thing, it’s entirely new, both in terms of drafting and editing. God knows I worked hard to find a beginning I liked, much less one that works or doesn’t with regards to other readers. When I write first drafts, I’m usually crossing my fingers, writing things down, and hoping for the best. While that draft sits for a month or so post completion, it’s always a total mystery to me whether I’m even going to like what I have.
Here’s the big news for all of you guys. I like this story. A lot. Even in rough, unpolished form, I think it has potential. It’s entirely unlike anything I’ve written before, and that scared me when I was actually doing the writing. But now that I’m reading back through my first draft, I keep coming across these little gems, scenes or moments or lines that I love. It’s when I’m finding those with more regularity than I’m thinking, “This is crap,” that I know I’ve got something.
That’s not to say FtM doesn’t have a lot of work ahead of it. I know it does. I’m a terminal over-writer, over describing and analyzing and generally putting in a lot of extra crap that doesn’t need to be there. My big job in this first pass through of edits is to cut out all the stuff that doesn’t need to be there so I can begin fleshing out the stuff that stays.
It’s a time-consuming job, especially since I’m apt to spend five minutes or so per page, but even as I chip away at this manuscript, there’s something else I’m realizing.
I know so much more about what I’m doing this time around than I did editing The Recruited OR Between Two Lives. When I started editing TR, I still thought fixing my book meant adjusting a few things here and there. Thank God I had a lot of excellent editors who helped me see otherwise, or I might have made a colossal fool of myself before I even started querying.
If working on TR taught me how to rewrite for consistency and go for the big changes, then BTL taught me how to cut. It taught me how to be concise, to say things simply and without over-writing them. These are both valuable skills that I am going to apply to Facing the Music as I continue to work my way through what will no doubt be several rounds of edits. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still going to utilize my betas and any outside resources I have available to me, but it’s nice to know I don’t entirely need to rely on others to show me the way.
For the first time I have some idea of where I’m going with this story, even if it’s probably subject to change. I have to say it’s a refreshing change after all the headaches writing the first draft caused me.