Michelle Rowen

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Scene by scene

So I’m finished with my read-through of Living in Eden #2 and have established that it will need a very thorough second draft rewrite. For the most part, I pantsed this book (I have no idea why — it seemed like a good idea at the time). I’m in love with these characters, and the plot is fine, but the major issue with the first draft is it’s lacking solid GMC (Goal, motivation and conflict) and emotional depth. This is not a shock. Most of my first drafts are very surfacey. I need to dig down deeper for the next draft. It’s harder to get that emotional connection — for me, anyhoo — writing in third person, which is how this book is. I knew I wanted to have the option of multiple points of view, which is why I chose to do third in the Eden series rather than first, which is my writing preference. In first I can more easily get into the character’s skin. In third it’s a bit tricker, but not impossible.

So that was a long way of saying I’m nose to the grindstone for the rest of the month as I finish the draft I’ll be handing in to my editor August 1st. I’m excited about this book. It’s a very worthy follow up to LIVING IN EDEN (out May 2010!!) Now I just need to make it…worthier.

I thought I’d talk a bit about how I approach second drafts.

Basically I do a scene by scene break down as I read through from front to back. I note the time, location and what happens in the scene. In capital letters I write what I want to change or what I need to keep in mind as I rewrite (or tweak) it. I give the scene a color to correspond with how much work it’s going to need:

Green meets it’s perfect as is! (there aren’t many of these)
Blue means it needs some fleshing out, maybe a bit more description (lots of these, usually)
Orange means it needs heavier reworking, maybe motivation was off or not specific enough (lots of these)
Red means a total, ground-up rewrite, and usually it’s best to retype the scene in rather than just peck in the changes (hopefully not toooo many of these)

I thought I’d share a page from my scene-by-scene breakdown of STAKES & STILETTOS to show you what I mean. This represents scenes 7 – 14 (out of approx. 50 total scenes).

Click to enlarge:

The first draft of S&S needed a ton of work for the first 100 pages. The rest of the book were all greens and blues. This rarely happens but is nice when it does. I find that clear motivation and story goal is KEY to a clean draft. If those things are wishy-washy, or if you’re using the first draft to discover what exactly they are (as I’ve just done with this new book) then it’ll need a brisk and thorough rewrite.

For Eden2, the first 100 pages are relatively okay, it’s the rest of the book that’s oranges and reds right now. But I know what it needs and how to fix it. And next fall, if all goes well, it will be available at the bookstore!!

4 comments to “Scene by scene”

  1. Ashleigh
     · July 25th, 2009 at 1:35 am · Link


    I’m just wondering, what is Living in Eden is about?

  2. Michelle Rowen
     · July 30th, 2009 at 9:37 pm · Link

    It’s about a woman who gets possessed by a demon. And he’s hot and funny. And they work together to have her get unpossessed and chaos ensues.

    I’ll be talking about it way more in the months to come when I get final back cover copy and cover art. Can’t wait!

  3. Ashleigh
     · August 3rd, 2009 at 3:52 am · Link

    Sounds good.Can’t wait to read that one.

    I like to say, I am a big fan of yours. You are my favourite aurthor :)

  4. Michelle Rowen
     · August 4th, 2009 at 7:32 pm · Link

    Thank you! You’re so sweet. :)

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