Writing Tin Men and Scarecrows – Part 2

I’ve just completed the first draft.

Well, kind of. The final scene has been written but I haven’t reviewed the manuscript yet. I’m about five thousand words less than my ideal word count, which is common for my first drafts. I’m considering adding a flashback sequence which will give more depth to the flawed relationship in this novel. At the moment, all we see is the fallout with some dialogue that explains why this marriage once worked.

But second guessing what the next draft needs before reading it is what I often do. Then I have different solutions once I review.

I gave myself more ‘breathing space’ with this work.

I am a plotter, but because I used a new method of developing the story and the characters before I began, I was able to ditch the outline in the second half without affecting the main plot points. The characters’ motivations were the same. They just lead the way, ignoring the outline yet arriving at the same dramatic moments.

This was also a story which started as third person limited, but after the thirteenth chapter, I rewrote it in first person multiple views. It also became my first present-tense novel. I changed it after reading a book in this format, as I felt its original style held the characters back. We know them better now.

Finn has been renamed Elton.

My next step is to review their individual voices one at a time.

This has to be done before any scenes are added. I know Dorothy has a distinct voice, as does Toby and Elton. Oliver does too, even though none of this is written from his point of view. But Jagger undergoes the most transformation and I when I wrote the second chapter he voices, his limited expression annoyed me. So when I initially edited, I made his language more colourful, but I know it’s my voice, not his.

So, I’ll review Dorothy’s chapters first, then in separate sittings I’ll do the others. That way I won’t muddle their distinctive phrasing.

My detailed character notes made this first draft more polished.

With other works, my characters are fleshed out to some extent in the initial draft, then become more fully realised in later drafts. This time I believe they know who they already are. They have depth. I can now play by giving them traits or habits, and highlight their flaws. This will help them become more individual, if that’s at all possible.

The first draft is where you write your ideas down.

And while this draft is too short, I won’t need a sub plot to weave into the story as I’ve done in the past. Every character already has an affect on each of the other characters. All I have to do is build on the stories which are already there.

Other recent blogs about my writing projects:

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