An outline is a basic roadmap of where you plan for the story to go. But sometimes, what works in outline form doesn’t always come together once it’s fleshed out. This was an issue I encountered more than once while working on the first draft of Trash Dick. Some moments didn’t quite come together, some chapters didn’t move the story forward, and characters lacked dimension.
These are all fine at this stage in the process, but I knew instinctively that much more work would be needed on the story and characters. I think this is where many new writers abandon their projects. Writing a novel can be an overwhelming process, and realizing that everything isn’t working and coming together neatly and orderly can scare some writers away. But you must push past that and keep working to improve the novel. Every writer whose work you enjoy goes through this process. It’s an inevitable part of the journey.
The first draft of Trash Dick wasn’t good. In fact, it had a lot of problems and issues. The important thing was that there was a draft on my computer that I could now work on, develop, polish, change, and improve.
It wasn’t until the ninth draft that I felt things were where I could share the manuscript with others, and that’s exactly what I did. Now, I knew even at this stage that there were aspects I wanted to improve, but I wanted feedback to make sure I was on the right track. I enlisted five women at work to read the draft and give me their thoughts and input.
I allowed myself to let go of the project for a few months as these women read the novel. It gave me time to reflect and jot down notes and ideas that could improve the novel once I returned to it. I knew I had written something that worked; it was just a matter of making it a stronger piece of writing.
Again, this is what the drafting process is all about—taking the time to read, assess, and change things as needed. It can be a struggle at times to cut things that you like, but if it doesn’t enhance the story, it’s got to go.
After a few months, I started getting feedback from my readers, and we’ll discuss that next. See you then!