Revising My First Draft

I finished my first draft at the beginning of November 2018, which was the most amazing thing.


Full disclosure, I was literally power dancing in my chair listening to “Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate as well as other saucy selections!

I started revising my manuscript about a week or two after I finished. Some people  wait months and work on something else, but since this is tied into a school project, I do not have that luxury. As I read through my manuscript with red pen in hand, I started to feel a little differently about my manuscript.

I do like some of what I’ve written, but other parts feel like cringy crap. Also, there’s the plot holes, characters that need development, parts where I’ve only written “type this later” and I’m not even halfway through. Yet, I knew this would happen because that is what goes on in a first draft. It is a sandbox and my job is to get the sand in there, but now that I’m done getting the sand into the box, I have to sift out the crap that made its way in whilst it was covered up by the sand. Then, I need to take the sand I have left and build a castle. This process has been arduous, but worth it.

There were points when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to make it through writing the draft, but I trudged through. When I got on the other side with a finished manuscript, I was really lost and I’m still lost. I mean, I looked at various articles on how to edit your first draft and everyone has varying opinions. I understood their approaches, but it all seems well and good until I’m looking at my own pile of sand. This site has practices that I’m currently following, but I have been naughty as I am reading my manuscript for the first time and marking it up simultaneously. The advice has been saying to read first and then mark up later, but after 13 pages I just couldn’t take it anymore and my red pen started going. I’ve been changing words, correcting mispellings, kicking out sentences, writing notes in the margins about character details, and a whole bunch of other minutia. I realize that nitpicking this early in editing may not even matter because of how likely it is that most of the content is going to be kicked out, rewritten, and/or rearranged, but I can’t help myself.

One thing that has been really helpful has been my Afrofuturism class. According to Google, Afrofuturism means “a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic or science fiction themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture.” I’ve never had a class like this and it helped me to determine what I’ve been trying to say with this manuscript. There are so many Afrofuturistic elements in my story, but this class helped me to recognize those elements and it also made me feel like I had points of reference by looking at history and other people’s stories. I’ve read Binti by Nnedi Okorafor and am in the midst of reading Sassafrass, Cypress, and Indigo. I want to talk about these works, but that will come later.

As I revise my first draft, I’m learning that I want my novel to tell the story more visually than I anticipated. Regular novels allow us each to picture our own version of the universe that an author is creating, but I’m really intent on showing people what’s floating in my head. My edting process is involving making messy thumbnail images mixed with text and writing out subplot charts inspired by J.K. Rowling. All I can do now is keep going!

All I have to say is that if you want to do something crazy whether you want to write a book or whatever is on your mind, you need to just jump in. I mean, you should  do some planning, but don’t get neurotic with it. I can tell you that it will only slow you down. It’s better to have a made a thing and be able to improve upon it as opposed to having a vision of perfection that no one will ever see manifested. I hope you keep creating and keep Xscaping!

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