Combining Two Rough Drafts into One Novel

Hoo boy! I've decided to combine two rough drafts into one novel. I currently have about 300 pages from the manuscripts printed out and have to figure out how I'm going to make this into one cohesive novel. I've spent days online trying to find a guide how to do this. Apparently, no one else has ever had the brilliant idea of combining two rough drafts into one novel. So, here ya go. A guide of how I'm doing it. I'm sure I'll make mistakes, but maybe if I warn you of those mistakes you won't make the same when you find yourself in this position.

First off, I suppose you're curious why I decided to combine the two. I have a few different reasons.

  1. Both female characters are about the same age, have issues with their families, and aren't happy until they reconnect with someone from their past. 
  2. I couldn't decide which of them I wanted to work on more at this time.
  3. I was afraid that either of them would fall a little short of my expectations, but I believe combining them would be a well-rounded story (if I do this correctly).
  4. And last but not least, I'm afraid of writing the same story repeatedly. It seems that several of my rough drafts are similar enough (at least to me) that I'd essentially be telling the same story repeatedly, just changing the characters and the setting. What fun would that be for me to write? Or for you to read?

It's been a week since I decided I was going to combine these two stories and I haven't accomplished much.

Today, I declared myself on a "facebook break" for about a week. Hopefully, by the time that week is up, I'll have made substantial progress.

My process so far has been to figure out which characters the combined story will be about, using "Find and Replace" to change those to the correct name (but clearly, there will still be errors to fix during revisions).

I've also imported the two stories into Scrivener and split it all into scenes, marking scenes that have conflict and scenes that are currently boring. (There are a lot of those.) I'm using Darcy Pattison's Novel Metamorphosis as a revision guide, loosely. I'm not doing every exercise in the book (so far). I'm also trying to do some things I learned from Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision system. I always end up with multiple revisions, but I do try to keep an eye out for errors like typos starting at the first pass.

Essentially what I have now is 282 pages of really, really, really rough draft. I printed it all out last night and finally forced myself to start scribbling on the manuscript tonight. So far I'm to page 27. The sad part is that I thought it was pretty good when I decided to do this.

Now, when I have a pen in my hand, I'm not so impressed. Which wouldn't normally bother me, but right now, I'm not even feeling much inspiration or clear direction how to fix that which doesn't impress me. However, I will plow through this and I know as I get further into the story, and get the BIG issues worked out the story will become clearer to me.

And the clearer the story is, the more fun it will be to revise. Or so I hope. I don't even have a working title yet, so there isn't any webpage and no blurb about the story.

I'll post more about my experience combining two rough drafts into one novel as I get further into the revision process.

 

Revising a novel

I struggle with revisions. Every time I start revising a novel, I spend time looking for a magic method, a checklist of things to do, and I keep looking until I think I've found the perfect plan. Then I print out my manuscript and start marking stuff up with my pen and the plan goes out the window. I have a hard time keeping things in my head. All the things I planned to fix remain on a sheet of paper next to me and I say, "I'll fix those in the next revision."

I've tried Holly Lisle's One Pass Revision method, and I get bogged down and overwhelmed before I get to the third chapter. I've done Darcy Pattison's Novel Metamorphosis workbook for two different novels. One is still in the Trunk-o-writing junk, awaiting its chance to see the light of day again. The second one is Faceoff of the Heart.

Working my way through the Novel Metamorphosis workbook was helpful to realize what areas I needed to work on, but I still have a huge list (okay, not really huge, but still a full page) of things I want to fix. When I look at the list, my eyes gloss over and I start to freak out that I have these things to check for and fix all the way through the 200 pages of manuscript.

The list sits on top of the manuscript in its expandable folder. I look at it every time I pull the new pages out to be revised. And I sigh, because I haven't really been paying attention to those things. Ugh. 100 pages in and I didn't fix any of the things I'd specifically written on my "Plan of Action."

So tonight, when I pulled out the list I didn't just set it aside. I sat down and read it, and thought about each item on the list.

Plotting. Make sure each scene ends a little worse than the previous scene. Yeah, I've actually been doing that. That makes me feel better.

Characters. Better description. Well, hmm. I've never been good at describing the physical appearance of things (not even real items), but I've been adding more about the characters as I get to know them, so they're becoming more real. Knowing someone rocks back and forth on their feet when they're nervous, or their hands hurt because of early onset arthritis HAS to be nearly as good as knowing they have blue eyes and light blonde hair. Right? I mean, we don't choose our friends based on their eye color in real life. 

Sensory details. Include more details in each scene. Oh. I'm doing that without really thinking of it. Maybe I'm not doing as horribly as I'd thought.

Settings. More description again. fail

Okay. I guess fixing 75% of what I'd aimed to fix isn't awful. I can always go back through and add a bit more description of the settings as I type in all these changes I've made. Right?

What's your method for revising a novel?