Sunday, 18 October 2015

Soci of Metro - Second Second Draft Complete

The "Second Second Draft" of my novel, Soci of Metro, was completed on October 9th of this year—roughly a month after I finished the second draft. If that sounds confusing, then let me explain.

My first draft was a 40,000 skeleton scribbled on tatty scraps of paper and on the backs of envelopes. The story I wanted to tell existed in only the most basic sense, but there was no meat, no clear theme, no emotion and no atmosphere. The world in which Soci of Metro existed lacked detail too, because it all existed in my head, and I didn't feel I needed to weigh down my first draft with anything but that most basic story.

Soci of Metro's first draft took roughly three months to write. The second draft—the big rewrite—took almost a year. Characters were cut, chapters were cut, while others were added. Dialogue was tweaked and refined, verbs were considered, adverbs were burnt at the stake. Descriptions were added, adhering to the golden rule of "show don't tell", and the story's conclusion was expanded. The result was a 130,000 word draft that still has problems. But almost all of these problems concern only the story's start.

Writing Soci of Metro taught me more about writing than any of the 20+ short stories I've written. I'm not sure why that is, and haven't really sat down to think about it, but it's true. As a result, the first 10-15% of Soci of Metro was comprised of bloated prose with over-exaggerated characters, inward thinking, "witty" lines and other junk that didn't serve the story. It needed rewriting, again, and it needed it bad.

The first problem with this was that I'd spent the last eight months working almost exclusively on the novel. It was driving me mad, and I needed a break. I'd have dreams about characters, I'd write little passages into my story where said characters exploded for no reason, I'd imagine myself reaching into the computer screen and punching these guys in their stupid faces screaming "Just get on with it! Why is it all taking so long?! Just do that thing you have to do so I can write END and go to sleep!"

The second problem was that I'd promised me mum a read of my novel once I'd finished the second draft. This'd actually serve me well, as my mum's read more books than anyone I've ever known. And even though it sounds like a mistake to have a close family member critique my work, I do actually trust my mum to do it right, to provide the constructive criticism I crave, and tell me if I'm wasting my time. But I couldn't send my mum a draft with that rotten 10-15% dangling on the front.

Enter the Second Second Draft.

As far as I'm concerned, Soci of Metro is complete, at least in a structural sense i.e. I don't think any more scenes need to be added or cut (although I might be wrong). Any problems here on out will be regarding style, language, grammar, character inconsistencies and minor continuity errors. Stuff I can fix. Stuff that isn't hard to fix.

As for now, I'm leaving Soci of Metro for six weeks before printing it off, and reading it over. I hope I enjoy it. Until then I'm tinkering with some of my favourite short stories, applying what I've learnt from Soci of Metro to make them slick, and refined, and hopefully, hopefully saleable.


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