Monday, October 15, 2012

Deadlines are Magic

A month and a half after I finished writing it, I've finally completed a readthrough of my current manuscript for Void. At first, I wanted to take a break and step back from it, which is good for writing. It gives you perspective so you can come back to the story with sharper eyes. Still... I should have finished this a while ago. I have self-imposed deadlines, after all.

Deadlines... about those. The big, scary, far-off one is February 15th, my 20th birthday. That is the day I will send a completed manuscript to a publisher. (I'm hoping Tor, but I need to do some research first.) However, to get to that point, I'll need to set myself some smaller, but still challenging ones. Good thing deadlines are magic.

I think I can give myself until the beginning of December to work over what I have and get my story ready for alpha readers. At the very latest, I could let it slip till Christmas break. This is when I'll beg writing and story-savvy friends to tear apart all my words and tell me what's wrong with them, and pray they won't tear out my heart in the process. I may actually have to limit myself on the number of people I have read it, though, just to make sure the input is focused and I can handle all of it. If you're reading this and are interested, please let me know.

In the meantime, I will be rewriting. Considering the quality of the draft I just read, the time frame I have to work with is mildly terrifying. This is what you get for procrastinating, I suppose. And considering that this is my first time taking a novel to this level in the editing process (my first time finishing a novel-length second draft), there might be better ways to go about it. Like, doing better research before starting. Right now, I have to come up with a semi-plausible-sounding way to modify a dying nuclear generator so as to set off an EMP, as well as consider its ramifications. I have to make the mechanics of character development, dramatic reveals, and the operations of a secret underground society go smoothly and believably. And I have to fix big glaring mistakes (oh, yeah, I forgot that character existed...) and find all the tiny, sneaky ones.

I will be spending the month of January at home, possibly working, but it will also be my time to work on the issues my early readers find and polish all the words. NaNoWriMo has proved to me that I can spend an entire month focused on a story; this January, I'll see if I can finish one instead of start it.

Then I'll have two weeks in February to make sure I'm happy with everything before this challenge I gave myself over half a year ago is over. (Yeah, over half a year. Again, procrastination.)

Am I scared? Yes. Can I do it? I'm certain. Tight deadlines can be awful, but they're also the reason I've managed to write first drafts for three different 50,000-word novels in the first place while having rehearsal every night (November tends to be a heavy month for theater), as well as a 60,000-word second draft. These next four months might be terrible (especially if I decide to be insane and do NaNoWriMo again), but I can do it.

Why? Because I love this story. It's the reason I wrote it in the first place.

Heaven help me. Bye for now -- I've got work to do.

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