The Taking-It-One-Step-Further Draft

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to last week’s questions on writing locations. You’ve given me some great ideas and my experiment will commence in the next few months, so stay tuned for that!


In the meantime, I’ve been working on the third draft of CRESS (Book 3 of The Lunar Chronicles). For me, Draft #3 is a fun one because the plot is pretty solid by this point and I know my character well enough that they’re truly starting to come to life.


Which means that I can start concentrating on things like setting, atmosphere, pacing, motivation, and suspense. I like to think of this as my taking-it-one-step-further draft.


I usually begin with a read-through of the manuscript, but I’m not fixing word choices or sentence construction yet. Rather, I approach each scene with some specific questions in mind.


Things like:


– Am I making things too easy for my characters here?


– How could this bad-thing-that-happens be made even worse?


– How could I raise the stakes?


– Could the romance be more compelling or passionate?


– What setting details could I use to bring the location to life?


– Does every character in this scene have a clear goal? Is that depicted in their dialogue and actions?


Often I’ll find that a small tweak here or there can make a huge impact on the overall effect a scene has. One well-placed background detail can give a whole new feel to a setting, or a single line of dialogue can completely change the dynamic of a conversation. I really enjoy this part of writing. It’s kind of like I’ve been messily blowing dynamite in a mine, and now I can finally start shifting through and picking out the gold.


I also feel that this a stage of the writing process that goes overlooked by a lot of writers. Have you ever read a chapter in a book and thought, “Well, that was good, but it could have been so much better if the writer had just pushed a tiny bit further.”? That tiny-bit-further is what I’m looking for here. I’m not happy to just have a plot that works and characters that act like real people. I want a plot that’s exciting and unexpected and characters that are mesmerizing. And that can require a lot of time spent questioning myself to make sure I haven’t taken the easy way out. That I really have pushed the story as far as I can.


So that’s what I’m working on right now. I guess you’ll all be the ones to let me know if I succeeded!