Let’s forget burning bunnies for a moment, let’s talk about ugly ducklings. Ugly ducklings are my first rough drafts. Most times they look pretty good, and they go swimming after mama duck and grow up to be, uh, Christmas dinner. (grin) Today, after finishing Madison’s rough draft, I find I’ve got the ugly duckling of all ducklings sitting on my desk. Honking for attention.
Okay, it’s not that bad. But let me tell you my first thoughts so that the unpublished writers out there can get a better feel for how good their stuff actually is, and how often the difference between published and unpublished is just a heavy rewrite or two.
First, Madison III came in a little light, which is good. I’m about ten pages off my goal of 190 manuscript pages. Hollows hits 525, so that tells you just how short they wanted this one, but I like the brevity. The fix: Nothing. Those ten pages will just show up. Trust me.
Another thing I noticed right off is that I have Ron in the last chapter, and nowhere else. Not a good idea to have a character show up last moment. Not satisfying to the reader. The fix: I’m going to work him into a scene, either one that is slow with talk (maybe) but more likely one that is already busy with action. (to ratchet up the tension.)
My love interest sort of disappeared. Not emotionally, but physically. I had too many characters on the page to work with comfortably, so he got cut. The fix: give him a new job where he is still important and a reason why he can’t be putting toe-of-boot to reaper hind end. This does double duty of increasing the relationship between Madison and him as well.
Madison’s personal goal is kind of nebulous as it’s written right now. I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to end, so I left it open. The fix: Now that I know how it ends for sure, I can go back in the rewrite and shore it up. Does she get her body back and keep the amulet, or does she have to give her body up to keep it. Or does she give the amulet up completely? Now I know.
Someone had a name change. No biggie. At least all my characters kept their original sex. And yes, I’ve had it change once or twice right in the middle of the rough draft.
These are just the big things, the mismatched feathers sticking out at odd angles and the oversize beak. All I have to do is help it grow into its potential, because now that I’m looking at it, it is deceptively simple, elegant, and with a lot of work, should give the astute reader something to think about, be they YA or adult.
I guess what I’m saying is that don’t be afraid to write ugly. Leave stuff out. Don’t be afraid to change things as you go along. But don’t go back and fix anything until you’ve reached the end. Otherwise, you might be trying to put a swan’s wings on an ugly ducking that just needs some time to . . . grow.
Tomorrow I’ll be the guest interviewer for Vicki Pettersson on Romance Radio/The Beyond. It’s at 2:00 pm, EST. More info at Kim Interviews Vicki Pettersson.