Writing Log of a Fiction Manuscript.

Four years ago I began keeping writing logs in a Moleskine notebook (ugh). Eventually, I realized publishing them online and sharing them on Twitter would add a sense of accountability.

The initial, IRL writings logs documented a “practice” story about an amusement park owner with aspirations of becoming the next Walt Disney. I abandoned that story in spring 2015 when I began writing the manuscript for which I’m currently trying to find representation.

About a month ago I began writing the first draft of a contemporary/urban fantasy story, one I’ve wanted to write since summer 2014. In fact, I often daydreamed about it on train rides to my internship and while sorting review copies of books by release date in the closet there.

So, like back then, these writing logs will continue. Hopefully they’ll force me into writing more and being accountable.

To let you know where I’m currently at: The first draft is at about 18,000 words and is a shit show. That’s what first drafts are for though. My last writing session on it was Monday night where I wrote literally PAGES of atrocious, boring expository dialogue. But I have to tell the story to myself first.

Be on the lookout for more updates.

Today I read three chapters of Zoo City, a book I finished in December 2014. I chose to revisit Zoo City because it’s exactly what I want tonally and atmospherically for the manuscript I’m currently working on.

I wrote about 800 words tonight. The Dream is that I can do 500 per day but that’s going to be difficult until my hours change late in the month.

The “plot” of my story is all over the place. First drafts are a mess. When I started the draft a month or two ago I only knew the premise and the three largest set pieces (one of which is the ending and another of which occurs near the end). Filling in the gaps has been difficult. A lot of bland, unnatural expository dialogue and characters meandering around with no purpose.

Today though was more interesting. One of my favorite aspects of Zoo City is periodically there are articles or other pieces of media (movie reviews, etc) in between chapters. Those little breaks let the story breathe a bit but also add a tremendous amount of flavor and world-building.

So today I wrote an article analyzing a trend in the fictional world. It was the most fun I’ve had writing literally in years. It taught me so much about the world I wanted to build. I’m excited to write even more of these, and help reveal even more about the world through them.

Didn’t get any reading done today but wrote about 1,000 words of the new manuscript.

Today’s writing was much less interesting and much less worthwhile than yesterday’s. Yesterday’s writing I could imagine actually keeping in a second draft. Nearly all of today’s is getting scrapped for sure save for maybe a sentence or two.

I feel like a lot of the writing I’m doing is filler (today was nearly all narrative summary and trash) until I get to the scenes I actually had planned when I started.

I don’t make outlines for first drafts because I’d just tweak the outline endlessly and never actually write. My plan is to finish the first draft. And then, like I did with my completed manuscript (which, not to put to fine a point on it, I’m currently looking for representation for heh—it’s adult contemporary fiction!), make an outline for the completed draft. Once I had that outline, I heavily modified it, then wrote a new draft based off the heavily modified outline. A convoluted process but it worked quite well for me.

So this is just a matter of whether I’ll have enough duct tape to hold the first half of the manuscript together until I get to the later stuff that, hopefully, will be easier.

Matt Saccaro
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16 min
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