Third Act Blues

Front cover of 'The Dip' by Seth GodinEditing the third part of ‘The Witch Woman’s Prophecy’ is proving to be the least enjoyable part of writing this novel. One of my writing buddies has told me that I have hit ‘The Dip‘ as defined by Seth Godin.

Sometimes I feel that I’m not making any progress at all, and it would be so easy to just give up and start on something new, but I’m determined not to. The difference between those who start novels and those who actually complete a novel is perseverance. Sticking at it. Giving it your best shot.

When you’re in the first draft stage of the project, you create ideas with every sentence and ramp up the word count each day. It is exciting and the adrenaline tugs you along. But each time I pull out my editing pen and strike through yet another hundred words before replacing them with better, more relevant or clearer words, my heart sinks down to the floor at the thought of throwing those words away and searching for the right ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I love making the prose more polished, adding words that explain my ideas more clearly or show the characters’ feelings and deeds just as I picture them. I just wish I was making faster progress. Even as I write, I know that there are still threads to weave in that I missed in the first two drafts and keeping track of them all is hard. I have pages upon pages of notes and comments scratched in every margin. I shall probably have to write at least one more draft before I’m satisfied with it.

I’ve just read a couple of articles that extol the virtues of writing only a single draft. I wish I could do this, but I think that I’m a very long way from reaching that point. I don’t know if I would ever find it possible to get enough detail  into an outline to ensure that I didn’t leave things out (for me, at least, such an outline would have to be so detailed that it would virtually be a first draft!). I also discover new or better ideas all the time, and as I want the novel to be the best I can make it, I need to put them in.

What do you think? Should a novel be written in a single draft or should it just take as long at it needs, even at the risk of the author giving up?