I finished “Blue Cottage” a couple of weeks after my mother passed away. After she passed I will admit there was a period of time when I wanted to chuck the whole thing in the nearest garbage can. But my mum got a kick reading about Cassie Carter and Peter Christopher so I decided to soldier on. In order to improve it I enlisted the help of a friend. She suggested I collect all the chapters I published on WordPress, put them in chronological order from Chapter 1 to Chapter 13B, so I could better see the problem areas. After doing all that I discovered two things about my first draft. First it was 86,655 words long (single spaced) and secondly it was 291 pages long. Up to then I had no idea it was novel length.
To honour my parents, who both got a kick out of my stories since grade school, I’m going to write a second draft. I conducted an experiment when I was writing “Blue Cottage”. I usually try and do some sort of outline but “Blue Cottage” I decided to write to write by the seat of my pants. I found the experience mildly liberating but I soon found myself mired in a sea of details. Some people may be able to write by the seat of their pants but I can’t. I said to another friend this morning that writing without an outline is akin to Herman Melville writing Moby Dick completely without an outline.
I already know a number of things. The second draft will not appear on WordPress. I want this draft to be ready for a publisher. I think its a real loss that publishers will not touch anything that has appeared on-line. I also find this attitude puzzling because Andy Weir, author of the book “The Martian”, originally had “The Martian” on his web site long before he had a publishing deal.
Not only will there be an overall outline but there is going to be an outline for every single chapter. I don’t intend to make the mistake of having someone being 5’ 5” then two chapters later have them be 5’ 8”. I’m going to work on one chapter at a time meaning I won’t go to chapter two until I’m positive chapter 1 simply can’t any better. And if takes until doomsday to get story ready for publication I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere. And there won’t be any of this chapter “13B” nonsense. All chapters will have numbers. To paraphrase actor Charlton Heston they’re going to have to pry this laptop out of my cold dead hands before I begin my final sleep.