Aside from those rare instances like last week, when my characters spilled a flood of dialogue out to me in a single morning (and which I’m still making heads or tails of), first draft writing is excruciatingly slow for me.

I often wonder what it’s like for writers who whip through their first drafts in the space of a few months (or those hikers who can hustle up a mountain without the frequent breathers us regular mortals take). The only time I accomplished anything resembling a fast first draft was in writing a piece of fan fiction (for the movie Ever After, with Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott), which turned out to be about 50,000 words long. I wrote it for a group of friends who were also fans of the movie, from November 1998 through January or February 1999. But I wasn’t being too concerned with things like historical accuracy, or research. It was a simple, straightforward story, a classic romance plot: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wises up and gets girl back. I was mostly concerned with echoing as many themes from the movie as I could, to capture that particular flavor. The only research required was repeated viewing of the movie.

Today was a slow writing day on WILLA, as I picked my way through a conversation in the wake of a violent action and some bad news delivered to my main characters. Someone has lots of ‘splaining to do, but how much ‘splaining at one go is too much? How much does the reader really need, this early on? How can I be sure I explain enough, so that the reader isn’t left in confusion? Too, I need to make sure my characters aren’t simply sitting around, stunned at what took place, and talking on and on (and on) about What It All Means. It’s a slow process, feeling my way step by step, line by line, putting in words, taking them out, putting them back, trimming, cutting, pasting them away for safekeeping.

It’ll get done. Just wish my pace didn’t always put me at the back of the pack. A bit dusty back here!

To offset this tedious first draft work, and for some much needed brain rest, I’ve begun another edit on KINDRED, which feels a lot more to me like coming down a mountain than laboring up. It’s surprising what a little objectivity and a lot of ruthlessness will still accomplish at this point. Based on my progress with the first 8-9 chapters, my goal is to see another 10-20K disappear, before I reach The End, again. I’m keeping track over in the side bar.

Wish me luck! Especially, pray for me.

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