Line up Drafts in Scrivener
Watching your novel evolve through drafts in Scrivener's interface makes the arduous task of editing almost fun, but the learning curve is steep. I skipped the first to second draft part because the first draft's roughness made it hard to read AKA I don't have the balls to show it off. Suffice it to say that it was a mess. If Scrivener is a mystery, go to my favorite Scrivener De-mystifier, Karen Prince. UDEMY Scrivener Software Teacher
Make Lively Changes to Drafts
Guidelines, from that word, hangs a tale. As a teacher, I learned fast that my students went to sleep when I slavishly followed a plan. Why? Because learning requires dynamism, exchange, and open channels of communication. Planned lessons meant that I dominated the show and one-sided exchanges dissipated the energy needed for lively learning.
Fiction thrives on a dynamic exchange between writers and readers, so the whole process of maturing a writing project, requires peppiness. What sparks my attack plan and makes it dynamic? Susanne Lakin's groundbreaking book.
Brutal Critique Exchange Here
What's Editing Cheat Sheets about? Laying it all bear, I guess. My current novel, Monkey Love - An Environmental Saga, percolated for too long. Send it ti the editor, right? Maybe, but It needs a spark. The problem is that an editor's sharp pencil requires grist for the mill, so I scoured Editing books on Kindle until I found one with helpful Cheat Sheets included. As a bonus, The 12 Fatal Flaws of Fiction Writing by C.S. Lakin contain short before and after samples of editing that clearly demonstrate just the kind of faults Monkey Love (ugh!) contains. But wait! Can I see all of the flaws? Not likely.
Why not cut and paste your changes to Monkey Love's evolution in the comments? Better still, drop your own work in the box and I will add my own cut and paste suggestions. I know, you're wondering what incisive guidelines will apply? Ms Lakin's relevant Fatal Flaw Checklist posted above each set of examples, reigns supreme. Go through the part below or your own scene and look for signs of Nothing Happening, the first Fatal Flaw.
Drafting the Dreaded First Page Using the Checklist
Monkey Love: An Environmental Saga - Second Draft - Scene One
Pedro’s life in Guanacaste, Costa Rica could not have been better in the early 60’s, except for the dreams. Even though he didn’t fully trust the dreamy intuitions that would one day make him a successful police investigator, he did respect the uncanny ability of his visions to highlight important happenings in the lives of his close family and friends. From experience he just knew his world was about to go off kilter whenever a pounding heart woke him with a clammy neck, running in sweat that didn’t soak his pajamas, came along for the ride with his prescient dreams. Something bad always happened after those dreams, especially that one with the chicken pecking around his head again in the middle of the night.
Pedro was thinking of the first time years earlier that he’d had the ‘porch’ dream just before one of his closest friends, Consuela, suffered a trauma at the hands of her father. Actually Pedro remembered an early morning talk with his grandfather about that nightmare.
“Why’re you waking me, Pedro? It’s not even light out,” mumbled Eduardo, Pedro’s grandfather.
Eduardo held his mouth open and rubbed one eye while squinting the other eye when he woke. Today the other eye stared at Pedro standing in the doorway of the older man’s room. The boy’s hand went to his cheek to discover moisture there. Still sleepy himself, he rubbed the liquid between his thumb and forefinger.
“A dream, another one, or the same one?” asked Eduardo, now more awake.
The older man stood up and walked over to the boy. He passed a hand in front of Pedro’s face and eyes to see if the boy was sleepwalking, but Pedro reacted right away, so he ruffled Pedro’s hair as he spoke to him.
“Tell me, then while I make you some warm milk and honey. It’ll calm you.”
“I was lying on the porch, Grandpa, like I did when I was a baby but I was big like I am now. For some reason I couldn’t move and that chicken I was always afraid of as a child was pecking the wood all around my head and then it got to my head and I couldn’t close my eyes. I woke up just as its beak was about to peck my eye out.”
Eduardo came back from the fridge and put his free arm around Pedro’s shoulders.
“Your neck’s all wet. Are you cold? Here put this around your shoulders,” he continued while offering Pedro a shawl his wife wore in the evenings that was hanging over the back of the wood and wicker kitchen chair. Pedro nodded his thanks and put the soft wool covering over his shoulders. His teeth chattered as a rush of cold swept over his body.
The few ounces of milk boiled on the gas element. Eduardo poured the hot milk into a tin cup, added some honey he and Pedro had collected just the other day from the bee tree not far into the jungle near the volcanic hot springs. Then he added a little cold milk to make the milk drinkable.
“Drink up. You’ll feel better?”
Pedro drank, savoring both the taste and the calm the milk and honey brought.
“It was so real Grandpa.”
“Dreams can be like that. Is something bothering you? Not so unusual to be chased in a dream.”
“That’s the funny thing Grandpa.”
“I was sure I was Consuela in the dream.”
“Don’t go too far into it Pedro. It’s just a dream. Are you finished?”
“Thanks Grandpa. I feel better now.”
Drafting the Dreaded First Page Using the Checklist
Monkey Love: An Environmental Saga - Second Draft - Scene One
Pedro slept through the clammy sweat on his neck and chest that accompanied his recurring nightmares. One leg found its way out from under his favorite cotton sheet, then his good foot touched the floor as he sat up. Four toes on his other foot followed. He stood, imbalanced for a heartbeat, and shuffled his feet over the wood-slat floor, not noticing the dampness penetrating up through the cracks from the earth below. A splinter drew a little blood, but he pushed on, oblivious. He crossed the main room and opened the screen door that led onto the back porch, the outdoor kitchen.
By the door, Eduardo, Pedro’s grandfather, slept on a wide shelf propped open between their wood burning stove and the screened entrance. As the boy passed the head of the older man’s bed, Eduardo snored three staccato bursts, and briefly halted the young adolescent’s progress. Then the screen door creaked and slammed shut behind the sleepwalker. Eduardo, who had set the spring on the door to snap, startled awake. Pedro started moving. His shadow in the moonlight cast back over the older man, signaling the start of a nightly tango between the two of them. Tito, Eduardo’s black and tan bloodhound, raised his head first and lumbered up on stiff hips from his habitual spot half way under Eduardo’s bed.
“Down Tito,” whispered Eduardo.
The dog lay back, glad of his master’s signal to stay put.
“Stay boy,” added Eduardo.
Keeping one sleepy eye on Pedro’s progress across the yard, Eduardo took the time to scratch one of his old friend’s floppy ears. Tito sniffed the air in Pedro’s direction, signaling to Eduardo that it was time to get moving. Tito’s cloudy eyes searched to locate Pedro in his foggy field of view as he sniffed the air. He huffed, about to bark.
“Calm down, boy. I got him,” said Eduardo.
Eduardo slipped his feet into a pair of rubber boots he kept by his bed. As he did so, Pedro rounded the corner of the shed on the other side of the yard and stepped out of view. The night air helped clear Eduardo’s head. He jumped up and sprinted across the yard. When Eduardo got to the corner of the barn, he poked his head around the rough beam covered with sheet metal. The older man balanced the need to follow the boy against his fear of disturbing Pedro’s night walk. Eduardo’s mixed feelings filled his head, despite knowing from nightly experience that nothing short of a hard slap would awaken him. He saw Pedro sitting in one of his favorite places. The boy teetered on the edge of the splitting block beside the kindling pile where he and Eduardo split wood together every other afternoon. The two of them inhaled the smell of the jungle mixed with the odor of recently cut wood at the same moment. Eduardo approached and passed a hand in front of the boy’s face. Pedro looked confused. His fingers went to his watery eyes and rubbed.
“I’m awake, Grandpa. Why do I always come out here and sit down?”
Eduardo put one hand on his hip and the other hand reached out to help Pedro up.
“Beats me, kiddo. Warm milk and honey? It’ll calm your nerves.”
Pedro got up and put his arms around his grandfather. His wet cheeks pressed against the rough material of the thin blanket Eduardo held around his chest.
“What would I do without you to follow me around in the night, Grandpa? Thanks.”
The older man’s neck flushed red and he shook his head while putting his arms around the boy. He squeezed gently. They broke the hug at the same moment and the two of them walked back across the stony yard from the shed. Half way to the porch, Pedro hopped on one foot and then bent down to massage a sore toe. His hand moved away and he sucked in a breath through his teeth when he rubbed the space where his toe had been before the chopping accident last year and found a sore spot.
“I got something in my foot,” said Pedro.
“Probably a splinter. Those new slats in your room’re still pretty rough.”
“Why’d we have to change the old smooth ones, Grandpa? I liked them better.”
“Too many questions. I’ll look at your foot as soon as I get the fire going. Check for a needle in the box under my bed, would you?”
“I hate it when you dig them out with that thing,” said Pedro.
The noise of kindling and crumpled newspaper dropping into a metal box distracted the boy. Pedro turned back to face his grandfather. When Eduardo struck a wooden match against his tooth the odor of sulfur filled the air. The match lit the older man’s face from behind for an instant before he cupped the flame inside his large-knuckled hand and dropped it into the round opening of the stove. The paper caught fire and hardwood branches followed by the split wood all started crackling. Pedro rubbed his foot.
“Can I tell you about my dream, grandpa?”
“I’m all ears.”
The older man masked his impatience with the spirit world. He poured milk into a pot and gathered a dollop of honey that he had collected from a nest his father had shown him years ago in the jungle near the volcanic hot springs. Inhaling the sweet aroma from the notched piece of whittled wood as he spun it around in the air to hold the syrupy liquid in place, he plopped the stick into a tin cup filled with warm milk and stirred the mixture. The space near the outdoor cook stove warmed up. Pedro and he stepped closer, their hands warming over the stove. Without any introduction, Pedro elaborated on his dream.
“I was a baby lying on the floor right over there by the ringer washer. Mama’s feet kept the beat to loud dance music and she was singing while washing clothes. Then the rooster pecked the wood and came closer and closer to me. Just when it was about to peck at my face, my eye, she shooed it away and I woke up sitting on the stool near the wood pile.”
“Here, take the milk,” said Eduardo.
The boy sniffed the top of the cup and looked up gratefully at his tall, gray-haired mentor and closest friend. He took a sip and it warmed him to the core.