Friday, 13 December 2013

Do You Write an SFD?

Dangerous Phoenix has reached a crucial stage. My heroine, Daisy, has pulled it off by escaping from the mausoleum (with only the slightest bit of help from her creator) and storming to the rescue. Naturally her reward is a happy ending – more or less. I have the complete story down, the characters are partly fleshed out and the setting/s are introduced. In other words I’ve finished the SFD or the ‘shitty first draft’. Now how about the second?

This is the stage I love most. It’s the moment when I travel back to the beginning of the novel and begin to fill in the gaps I left – maybe research snippets I needed to check, or a more detailed description of a particular setting, or a deeper understanding of why one of my characters is acting the way they are. It’s also the time when I can start moving ‘stuff’ around, decide just how each chapter is best structured to create flow within and between chapters. And where I discover that though I’ve been too verbose at one point, I actually need an additional scene at another. Or, horrors, I’m guilty of repeating myself. It’s rather like being a potter with a slab of clay. The slab has been moulded into roughly the right size, roughly the right shape, but it needs a more delicate touch now to pinch, to add, to reshape until gradually a miracle happens – something better, tighter, emerges from what was once a little loose, a little baggy. Then all that’s left is to decorate - or in writerly terms, do a third draft. This is where I’ll focus on style and try to make sure that wherever I read, I’ve nailed the right word.

Of course, this sequence won’t work for everyone and it’s always interesting to hear how other writers do it. But for me, it works and I’m getting ready to flex those fingers!

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