Eighteen days after I posted about commencing the editing process for Till Death Do Us Party, I finished my first pass (if you’re one of those annoying people keeping count of the posts, determined to tell me I can’t count, I finished this late last night and wasn’t about to jump from staring at 450 pages to start writing about it – sorry!). Thanks to a lovely little thing called life, the process took a little while longer than anticipated, especially considering that this pass was largely reading those 450 double-spaced pages, making minor scribbles on said pages, and drawing out the plot. My next step is to really give the red pen a workout, hacking, slashing, and noting how I will rephrase a lot of the prose within.
As this is my first time reading the manuscript since this year-long process began, I think that now is a nice time to share my takeaways. An entire two of them. But in the meantime, check out the mess below, where I mapped out the plot.
1. It works. If you have a loose definition of “works,” that is.
Claims are generally made that all first drafts suck. You sit down to write, pour your heart and soul into the draft, only to sit down, read it, and swear under your breath about how terrible it is. The first draft makes little to no sense, is poorly written, and by no means would you ever want anybody to look at it. Until you resolve all those niggling little issues and appalling, gigantic plot holes, that is.
Well, upon about eighteen hours of reflection, I can say that this draft does not suck. The plot largely fits together (being a pantser, I was not expecting this), the character voices are generally distinct, a lot of the comedic elements work, as does the drama. The tone of the book works better than I had imagined, and remains reasonably consistent, with the caveat that the narrative juxtaposes multiple tones throughout. And the narrative voice seems to work quite nicely, too.
2. It needs a work. No matter your definition of “work,” it needs a lot of it.
Having a draft that in broad strokes, works, is great. It’s a workable draft. But boy oh, boy, does it have a lot of work as a piece of fiction. The plot, while largely fitting together, does have a couple of holes that need to be patched up, along with a number of continuity errors and forgotten little moments. While I am happy with the chapter breakdown and how it helps the flow, some chapters will need to be largely rewritten.
The tone works and isn’t as jarring as I thought. Where it bounces between heart, cringe-inducing moments, comedy, horrific moments and way too many F-bombs, the tone doesn’t fall apart and feel wholly inconsistent. That’s a win. It still needs to be refined, and each of these needs to stand on its own. The character voices work, but need some work to remain consistent throughout the book, and their growth needs to feel more natural.
As mentioned under point one, the narrative voice seems to work. Which is great where I managed to write in the intended narrative voice, but this drops off far more than I’d like. So bring on plenty of line editing!
In all honesty, reading this draft has left me feeling optimistic. Going in, I knew I would have a lot of work to do from here, and I do. As I stare down this dark tunnel, wondering when I will have a publishable manuscript, I feel the pain of what’s to come. Draft 2, draft 3, edits upon edits upon a shitload of more edits. It’s a long road, but when I reach the end, it’s starting to feel like that maybe, just maybe, it’s been worth it.