(The Twelve Blunders are used with permission of Jack McDevitt, and are taken from his webpage: http://jackmcdevitt.com/Writers.aspx)
Years ago, after writing the ten chapters of my “real”, adult science fiction novel, INVADER’S GUILT: BOOK ONE OF THE GOD-PARTS FABRICATION, I labored under the impression that this draft had to be, if not perfect at least near-publishable.
After the next five chapters, I realized that it wasn’t even close to being publishable, I stopped. It languished for some time until I read an article that suggested that I “write like a shark” (http://faithandsciencefiction.blogspot.com/2008/09/writing-advice-write-like-shark.html). To write like a shark, I had to follow my plan and keep writing until the book was done.
Realizing the truth of McDevitt’s Blunder #2 helped as well: I couldn’t stop and polish every chapter, paragraph or sentence until I thought it was perfect. That might very well be a waste of time if I polished a page that I would ultimately have to cut. I needed to move forward and produce an end product. So I went back to INVADER’S GUILT and entered the original chapters into my new computer. Ignoring the urge to go back and revise as I wrote, I barreled through and finished it by the time the school year ended. The story was rough-and-tumble and sometimes confusing, but it was done and I had a beginning, middle and an end.
According to McDevitt, then came the easy part: revision. That was hard for me to grasp at first. To try to change five hundred pages of very raw story into a potentially saleable book was daunting. McDevitt agrees, but points out that the worst part of the process was over. I had a story written down. All I had to do now was make that story clear.
It took another year to finish polishing INVADER’S GUILT and after that, I started shopping it around. I had a few request to see partials, but no one wanted to see all of it. I stopped querying editors and started to take the advice of a couple of my first readers and I dropped two characters and added an overarching theme -- the process of revision it seems, is almost neverending.
The newly finished revision just started making the rounds a few weeks ago, so I’ll keep you up-to-date. Until then, I will continue to avoid McDevitt’s Blunder #2 and continue to write like a shark!