Ugly Duckling

That pretty much sums up my first draft.

And my second.

Then the thing starts to perk up.

Can you tell I'm deep in revision mode?

The story that was inside my mind has been drafted. It's been shuffled around. The fluff and stuffing I needed while transferring the story from my mind to the page has been purged. The missing pieces of character and plot have been found and put in the correct order.

At least this is where I should be at the end of second draft. As it turns out, this story hasn't followed any normal path to reach this point.

Due to circumstances entirely beyond my control - including the unplanned arrival of a high-energy puppy, a move, and two emergency surgeries on a family member - I needed two drafts to be where I should have been at the end of the first one because I lost focus so many times.

So I'm on Draft 3 now. Pulling out fluff and stuffing by the handful. Inserting bits of character and plot. Making sure the motivation and goals are clear. Building lots more tension on the page. Tightening as I go. The incident on page 85 now shows up well before page 50.

When I finish this draft, the real work will begin. Getting deeper into point of view will tweak the voice, which will tinker with things like dialogue and description. I'll need to find all those pesky overused words. Play with sentence structure and stronger words that still keep to the character's voice and overall tone. Pacing - where I need to jiggle with the ups and downs, the suspense and release.

After all that, I'll read it aloud to catch things I missed. I usually find a lot.

I still have an ugly duckling right now, but it won't be long before my vision starts taking shape. But one day, after lots of help from my critique partners and months of revision and editing, my ugly duckling will grow up and be refined enough to venture out.

It won't yet be a beautiful, graceful swan ... that's what good editors are for.

But it's on the way.


Jennifer Shirk said…
That's okay. They all start out ugly in the beginning. :)
Anonymous said…
My editor is awesome. Took a diamond in the rough and made it a polished gem. Just keep on keeping on. It can be a tedious process sometimes but the day will soon come when you say, "that's it, nomore." Time to turn it over to the editor.

Stephen Tremp
Terry Odell said…
Maybe that's why I like tweaking as I go--I don't feel like any specific manuscript has taken a specific number of drafts. When it's done, it's done.

Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery
Anonymous said…
That's an awful lot of stuff to balance whilst working on revisions. Hope your family member is well, you're settled after your move and that your little puppy is adapting to life with you. :) Just keep plugging along, Carol, and I'm sure you'll reach your pre-publishing quality goal. :)
Carol Kilgore said…
Jennifer - And that's a good thing!

Stephen - Good editors are awesome.

Terry - I love how we all write in different ways. If I tried to tweak as I went, I'd be a train wreck.
Carol Kilgore said…
Kimberly - Thanks. Things are so much better now. Hope they stay that way.
Helen Ginger said…
Great post on the process of revising. New or non-writers might think the revision stage is fast and easy, just looking for tiny mistakes. Sometimes, it can be a huge process - one you seem to be handling well.

VR Barkowski said…
The idea of an ugly duckling draft really appeals. The ugly duckling that turns into a beautiful swan is so much more hopeful than the sh*tty first draft which doesn't sound as if it could turn into anything.
I follow exactly the same path; you know there's something good (or at least you hope) under all the mess, but it takes a lot of digging to find it. Keep going, Carol! I'm sure you'll discover a gem.
I love how you mention that at the end of the revising it's still at the beginning! So true.
Carol Kilgore said…
Helen - Don't know how well I'm handling it, LOL, but it continues none the less.

VR - Viewpoint is everything :)

Elspeth - I sure hope so.

Conda - Yes, there's always more work to be done. I guess it's never finished until you see it in print or onscreen. Then you wish you'd changed this or that or the other.
Joanne said…
That's the beauty of those ducklings, they are all filled with amazing potential, growing into their own beautiful feathers with time and attention! (I actually have a couple visiting my blog on my next post!)
The swan is coming!
And there's still time to participate in the blogfest, Carol. Several bloggers are posting tomorrow. Jump on in!
Kerrie said…
With some more time, nurturing and hopefully fewer family emergencies, your ugly duckling with absolutely turn into a beautiful swan.

Happy revising!
Carol Kilgore said…
Joanne - Oooh, I'll be stopping by! I can't wait until mine grows up :)

Alex - That ad must be what prompted me to make this post. So far I've chosen from everyone else's list. I think I have Cheers, Seinfeld, MASH, Quantum Leap, X-Files, and there were others I can't recall at the moment. I'd add I Love Lucy.

Kerrie - I certainly hope fewer family emergencies. I'd like to think I'm done with those for a long time.
Sounds like you’re making good progress. I can never keep up with the number of times I revise my manuscripts – those graceful swans certainly don’t come easily.
I have a big ole soft spot for ugly ducklings. They just need someone to love them and see their potential. And the beautiful swan they will one day become.

I'm glad you haven't abandoned your ugly duckling. Sometimes mama swans have lots of things to take care of and the only thing she can manage in the meantime is to protect her little duck.

You've protected it. Now, you're helping it to learn to spread it's wings. Soon, it will learn to swim....and, ultimately, to fly.

Hang in there!

And I'm sorry about the surgeries...I hope everything is alright!
RaShelle said…
Ah Carol, our rough drafts, and it takes patience too. I'm glad you still have the vision to know it will be a beautiful swan one day. =D
Carol Kilgore said…
Jane - I go through from front to back with each one. Then I SAVE AS and give the new one the next number. It's the only way I know.

Words Crafter - How beautiful. Thank you. Yes, everyone is fine know. Thankfully.

RaShelle - I'm persistent. Plus, I truly believe in this story.
Maryann Miller said…
I can really relate, Carol. I am trying to finish a third draft of a book that I have been working on what seems like forever. Had lots of interruptions with family health issues and the death of my father, so I have lost that focus. It is so hard to get it back when you have to step away for long periods of time.
Carol Kilgore said…
For a while there, different things kept up one right after the other with only a week or two in between. By the time I'd get my focus back, I'd write 2-3 days and WHAM! Another month would pass before I was back for 2-3 days. It's been different, I'll say that.
Hart Johnson said…
I'm editing at the moment, too, and I've been asking myself... why, if I can write the darned thing in 8 weeks, does it take twice that long to whip it into shape, because it will be that long before I am done.

I am doing 'second edit'-which is the part where I am not SUPPOSED to be editing (but can't help myself)--only taking notes on the big stuff that needs fixing...

Good luck to you!
Sheila Deeth said…
Hmmm. Maybe it's time I tried my third draft too. Good luck with the duckling, and enjoy the puppy.
I think ugly ducklings are the cutest and we all know morph into beautiful ducks. Your manuscript will morph too.

Carol Kilgore said…
Hart - Good luck to you, too :)

Sheila - Go for it.

Teresa - I sure hope you're right.
Hannah Kincade said…
That's fantastic! And the more you work on things the better writer you are becoming. Yay!