Handwritten first draft manuscript of She Who Returns

Work in Progress Report

Maybe a better title would be “Regress Report.”

Remember the pile of scribbled-upon paper I displayed in a post at the end of June? That was the first draft of my current work in progress. Two hundred pages, about 100,000 words, I hoped.

I expected to take a couple of months to type it up (why does that sound old-fashioned?) The story was complete, more or less, so I was finished with the hard work of rendering imaginings into prose. All I had to do was pound the computer keyboard until I had a big, fat Word document I could massage into perfection.

Remember the motto I applied to the project? “PLOT MUST BE LOGICAL.” It lived up to that until the 60% point, when I reached a place I remembered as potentially problematic. It turned out to be actually problematic. In fact, I had added a note in the manuscript that said “Major Bump in the Road. Fix!” At the time (back in April), I was intent on powering through to “The End.” Any problems could be fixed in the rewrite.

Fixing this problem meant scrapping and rewriting ten pages, or about 5,000 words. The Imaginer had to be recalled from a state of torpor and persuaded to come up with some logical plot elements that would fit nicely into the chasm gap created by removing those ten pages. The new material couldn’t interfere with other plot elements that absolutely had to remain as they were.

As part of the rethink that preceded the rewrite, the Imaginer came up with a splendid new idea that fixed not only the previously identified bump in the road, but did away with some other logic-impairing aspects of the original.

The rewrite took about two weeks, in part because the continued drought in this part of the world made it necessary to spend an hour or so a day racing around with watering cans, dragging hoses, positioning sprinklers, etc. Then there were the usual garden tasks of deadheading, staking and tying, fretting about plants not doing well, and standing around admiring those that were.

Now, at the end of August, instead of a complete second draft, I still have 50 pages (25%) of the original manuscript to key in (which sounds less antediluvian than “type up”). I know it won’t be a simple matter of transcribing the original, because I have to make adjustments as a result of the rewrite, with the splendid new idea. And there are a couple of things the characters are going to have to discuss, to make sure that certain elements make an appearance.

On the plus side, I don’t have word count anxiety. At 75%, the document has about 77,000 words. There will be lots of surplus to trim, once I get to that part of the process. Short, skimpy early drafts make me nervous–will there be anything left after deleting all the crap?

I still hope to have a publish-worthy novel by spring 2022.


  1. Thank you for sharing this very useful information. Even though i am not a writer (of literature) i am very familiar with this situation. As my “work(s)” are not bigger than 50 pages, sometimes – or should i write “most times” – i am using the “Del”-Button and make a new start. 😉 Good Luck! All the best! xx Michael

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I see no regression here Audrey, and you’ve overcome thed major hurdle cwith your hard work and ‘New idea’. I have every faith in you completing in a timely fashion using all those storytelling skills you usually apply.
    Huge Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sounds like me right now! I really am working on Part 9 of MWFB. If I can’t cut it by about half, I’ll probably scrap it and take a different tack. I’m going to eliminate an entire character who really had no role to play in Robbie’s life, and I hope to cut most of the linguistic stuff. I did enough of that in Part 8 to satisfy even the most devoted conlanger. But parts of this are really entertaining and I can’t see getting rid of them. So you may yet find out what happens after the Ariana returns to planet Earth! (I may save the linguistic chapters and publish them as a supplement at some point, strictly for my conlanging friends.)
    God luck with your own revision, and with all your gardening, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sure this will come good, Audrey. And we mustn’t forget, this is exactly why we love writing, though at times it’s more like trying to tame a bag of weasels, or snakes, or other unruly, wiggly things!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It seems to me that the first draft did exactly what it was supposed to do, and the second is doing its job as well. In fact, reading between the lines, it seems that the bump in the road and its splendid solution has reinvigorated you. And there’s nothing wrong with a 100+K word story. Who wants to leave a good story?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. At least you found a solution even though it meant a significant rewrite, Audrey. Some stories get so off course, there’s no rescuing them from the abyss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s sort of a superstition by now, that I write the first draft that way. And to me, a sheet of paper with scribbled words is less intimidating than a screen with a few paragraphs that may end up looking dumb, in part because they’re too easy to read. Weird, I know.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Audrey, I’m smiling at your earlier note to yourself: “Major Bump in the Road. Fix!”! You did right to power through it and return now for the rewrite and glad it’s all fixed! I handwrote my first full draft as well … sometimes typing up a few days later or leaving a large chunk until later. I found my inspiration for a first draft runs much smoother using pen and paper! Happy Editing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Downhill with a few more bumps, probably. That’s what happens when I get new ideas while I’m writing something. I draw a line and make a note like “Replace the previous with THIS.” A swear-inducing moment when I get to that point a couple months later. 😧
      Oh well, it’s all part of the process, and I’m more done than not.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sounds to me like you are powering ahead. I had an 80,000 word first draft that had major problems. I deleted 30,000 words! I am still rewriting and keep getting stuck. Your progress sounds impressive. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good. Your post inspired me to take a look at some online sites about overcoming the slump in the middle. Something clicked and I finally finished the chapter I’ve been stuck on. What a relief!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. lol – those rethinks must be contagious coz I’m having them too. But…I’ll bet the story is a lot stronger because of them. All power to your keyboard. 🙂


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