Saturday, August 22, 2015

Traitors & Tyrants Draft #4: Commitment

No man has been more inspiring or has taught me more about revisions than the great Tolkien himself. There is a plethora of writing advise out there. I once read somewhere that a novel should only have three or four drafts. After revising Traitors & Tyrants two times already, I find myself beginning another round of revisions. Once I've completed these I will be four drafts into this novel. I've finally come to accept that it may take a few more until I get Traitors & Tyrants where I want it, and that's okay. Not including the occasional dalliance into novels whose ideas are barely half formed, I have been working solely on Traitors & Tyrants for almost two years. I have never worked on a single novel concept for such a long period of time. The dedication I have to this novel almost seems unfounded to me.

Traitors & Tyrants has inspired me to keep going. It has made me want to give up on it. I've considered giving up on this dream of mine. But it refuses to leave me alone. Almost every single time I want to write, I find myself thinking about Traitors & Tyrants.

Let's cover something for a moment. I have completed five other drafts and have been dangerously close to finishing two more for the past two years. I have flirted with the new stories and have let them float around in my head quite longer than I typically let these type of things float. None of them have managed to pull me completely away from Traitors & Tyrants and I've asked myself why. More than once.

There comes a point when you have to decide how committed your are to a novel. I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to stick with this until the very end. I wanted to give Traitors & Tyrants it's best shot before it even had a title. Nothing in my life has taught me more about persistence than writing. Not long ago, I contemplated scrapping Traitors & Tyrants. I've written three drafts and it still needs a lot of work. But as I thought, I realized (although I already knew this) that if I never stuck with a novel long enough, it would never reach that coveted point of perfection I so desperately desire for it.

The unique thing about Traitors & Tyrants is that I believe in it unlike any other novel I have ever written. Every time I contemplate the next round of revisions, the thought strikes me of how much untapped potential it has. It is my belief in its potential and perhaps even all of the time I've invested in it that helps keep me going.

I finished the third draft about two months ago. It's been difficult to get started again because I lost a lot of work. Losing that work was a huge blow and it's been extremely hard to bounce back from it. It still makes me sad to think of how it was before I lost that work. It was five times better than it currently is. I've needed the past two months to get my head out of Traitors & Tyrants though. I've needed this time away from it. I was too close to it.

Recently, I started listening to Falling Kingdoms. I'd originally abandoned it when I tried to read it a couple of years ago. I hated the characters. While my view of the characters hasn't exactly changed, I've been taking this opportunity to appreciate the world Rhodes has developed. She is another author I can add to my list of inspiration. If anything, she has taught me how useful a despicable character can be to a story (when used correctly).

Shortly after starting Falling Kingdoms, I came across an article written by Maggie Stiefvater in which she basically says that writing takes work and not to belittle that. Behind almost every good novel, is an outline of some kind written at some point. This is another inspiring thing for me because it has given me the boost I need to begin revisions for Traitors & Tyrants again. I had success with an outline when I completely rewrote Traitors & Tyrants and will be employing a more extensive one this time as I move towards another round of edits.

My plan this time? Put my goals for this draft down on paper and outline the novel with these things in mind. This more extensive outline will force me to seriously contemplate each new direction I consider for Traitors & Tyrants; it will help me strengthen the plot lines, characters, and settings that are already in place. I am eager to dive into this round of revisions, and have actually already begun this process.

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