In these Work In Progress updates I’m going to try and share what it’s like when I write and launch a new book. I’ll try to leave out all the boring bits where it’s just me typing.
I can’t really call my second draft editing. Like I said before, my first drafts are pretty streamlined so my second drafts are less culling words and more crafting sentences.
When I write my second draft, I open a second Pages document and copy a sentence over at a time. I don’t move on until I’m happy with that sentence. Sometimes the sentence gets shorter, but often not. Here’s an example.
For example: The story begins at a bowling alley. The three husbands have been forced to hang out and “get along” for the benefit of the neighborhood. If you’ve read Dumb White Husband for President, you’ll know why.
I’ve been to a few bowling alleys for kids’ parties lately and I’m amazed at how much they’ve changed from the 80’s. In the first draft, I wrote this:
Aside from the bowling lanes, it hardly seemed like a bowling alley. The majority of the Meadows Park Family Fun and Bowling Center was devoted to an arcade, laser tag arena and some kind of ropes course. The restaurant didn’t sell pretzels from a heat lamp and the nicotine stained plastic benches and orange laminate tables were leather couches and wooden coffee tables.
It’s bad and clunky—just like all of my first drafts. But it served to establish the setting and as notes for all the things I wanted to comment on.
Here’s what it looks like in the second draft:
It had been years since they had been bowling, but it was not lost on any of the three men that, even in the establishment’s logo, bowling was distinctly separated from the word fun.
The Meadows Park Family Fun & Bowling Center had gone to great lengths to look nothing like any bowling alley that they could remembered. The interior designer had selected plush leather couches and rich wooden tables instead of the nicotine stained plastic furniture that used to line the lanes of America.
Instead of flat beige walls marred with beer stains from flung bottles, the center was painted with dark and inviting shades of blue and red.
The concession stand was actually Finnegan’s, a mock Irish pub that offered more fare than heat lamp pretzels and microwaved cheese cups. It contained a dinning area that encompassed the billiard room where regulation sized tables filled a sunken area. None of which appeared to take quarters.
Beyond Finnegan’s the screams of hyperactive children were swallowed by the gunfire, guitar riffs, and dance commands of an expansive arcade. Each ran on a “fun zone” card that you loaded with cash. This cash became credits that the kids could turn into points to redeem for tickets that could be exchanged for crap that the arcade kept in glass cases to give it the appearance of being really special crap. A piece of gum was five tickets. This equated to roughly four dollars by the time it had gone through the “Fun Zone” cash/credit/points/tickets/crap conversion.
Menacing aliens stood guard to the doors of the Laser Tag arena. These ten foot monstrosities took their inspiration from Geiger’s nightmares but each wielded a bright orange rifle designed by a committee at the Department of Safety and Ruining Fun. They probably shot bubbles.
A ropes course was strung above everything. For five bucks a minute kids could be tethered to a safety line and move from platform to platform via strung together bridges. One had to admit that from a kids point of it could look fun, but for one of the men it brought back a tragic trust fall memory from an off-site work event.
There were also bowling lanes.
See? It’s hardly editing.
I also mentioned how lazy I was when it came to describing a character’s actions. I take the easy way out on the first run through but leave myself a note in all caps:
Chris WAS QUIET “I hope Rachel and the kids are okay.”
On the second run, I replace the caps with descriptive action instead of just the words.
Chris lowered himself to the couch. He looked as if he was going to throw up. “I hope Rachel and the kids are okay.”
And this continues on until it’s done. Then it goes off to the proofreader. That’s the stage I’m at now. I just received the story back and will begin the last round of edits.
Dumb White Husbands vs Zombies: Monday should be available the second Monday in June. Dumb White Husbands vs Zombies: Tuesday will follow two weeks later.
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