Combining Two Rough Drafts into One Novel - Part 3

This is the last post regarding combining two rough drafts into one novel. The first one can be found here and the second, here. It's been a heck of a struggle, but I'm happy now with what I'm considering the rough draft of Letting Go (working title). Some difficulties I ran into were: characters (names, ages, descriptions, etc.) Thankfully (?) I'm not very descriptive in my rough drafts so it wasn't too hard to change those things. I did have some problems with getting the names right throughout. For example, using "Find and Replace" to change "Matt" into "Lance" resulted in several places that said, "What really Lanceers is..."

Looking on the bright side, I now realize that I overused the phrase "What really matters," in dialogue.

This was the first time in quite a while that I've actually used scissors and tape to cut sections of the manuscript up and move it around. I probably should have used Scrivener, but I was being stubborn and didn't want to fight with software. That's a mistake that wasted a lot of time for me. Today, after I made all the changes in Pages, I copied and pasted all the new text into Scrivener. I should have just left it in Scrivener and figured out how to make it do what I wanted.

Now that I have a rough draft of one story, I'm letting it sit for a few days before I start my normal revision process. While it sits, I have a notepad nearby so I can scribble any ideas that pop into my head. This way, I might have things sorted out in my head when I start to mark up the next revision. I know many areas are skimpy on details and I add things throughout my revision process.

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.

 

Scrivener or OneNote

Are you contemplating whether to purchase Scrivener to plan and write your novel on Windows? You may already have OneNote on your computer. So which should you use, Scrivener or OneNote? I tried Scrivener again last night. I couldn't even make it through the tutorial before I was confused beyond words. I hear there are some neat features on it, but I'm going to stick with OneNote and Word.

Believe me, it's hard to say that since I'm normally not a Microsoft fan. Am I the only one who isn't impressed with Scrivener? I just might not be smart enough for Scrivener.

Edited: I've been revisiting Scrivener and may be changing my mind as I get more comfortable with it.

Idea creation

I've used different methods of coming up with ideas over the years. When I used to write every day, and had lots of story ideas, most of my ideas came from my dreams. I'd wake up and wonder, "What happened to that guy/girl/dog who chased me through the corn field/pushed me down the stairs/joined me in the shower?" So I'd write what I remembered of the dream then just write whatever came to me. I was just writing the story so I could learn what happened. I enjoyed this method as it was fun for me to learn the story as I went along. However, it wasn't very organized. Sometimes I'd end up with an entire notebook full of words, but it didn't have a plot or any real point. However, I learned more about my characters and if I really wanted to, I could consider those stories prewriting now and pick the kernels from the chaff and outline it into novels. I started Alaskan Healing for a class I was taking online with the wonderful Loree Lough in 2006. It was the night before the class started and I was supposed to have an idea to work with. I'd procrastinated and procrastinated some more, thinking, "Damn. I hope an idea shows up otherwise this class is going to be a waste of money."

Grumbling about my muse's refusal to cooperate, I sat my butt on the couch to watch tv with my husband, he flipped the channel to Deadliest Catch and I said to myself, "I wonder why there aren't any women on any of the boats."

Aha! I had my idea. Thank you, Ms. Muse.

I wrote the rough draft of the hockey novel I am currently revising (no title so far) during National Novel Writing Month in 2006. I followed part of the Snowflake Novel Writing Method, but the initial idea came from watching too much hockey. (Blasphemy! There is no such thing as too much hockey!)

In August (2012), when I finally started working on Alaskan Hope (the next Alaskan Healing novel), I wasn't sure what I wanted to write. I had a good idea who my characters were going to be, but not what they were going to do. I used Freemind mind mapping software to get a bunch of ideas on paper/screen and sorted through those ideas to find the main "what happens to them" of the story.

 

There have been other various ideas between the hockey novel and Alaskan Hope, but I don't know that they'll ever amount to anything, so I didn't mention them in this post.

Microsoft OneNote

I've never been a fan of Microsoft or their products. However, I have a new laptop with Windows 7 on it because my MacBook Pro died and I couldn't justify spending a couple grand on a new MBP when I have a nice iMac (I'm quite loyal to Apple products.) Anyway, I'm quite happy with my $500 Lenovo ThinkPad, but I needed a few things to ensure I can get things done. Among those things was Microsoft Office. Whether I like it or not, there are times where it's needed (spreadsheets for my "day job", opening other people's documents, etc).

In the Windows version of Office 2010 is a piece of software I've never even heard of before, OneNote. Holy mother of God! I AM IN LOVE!

I don't even think it can be described, but it's like a 3-ring binder with all kinds of capabilities. So far, I haven't even tested them all, but egads am I hooked. So far tonight, I've created a list of scenes, which all link to separate pages where the rough draft can be typed. I have a list of characters which links to separate character profiles, and a list of settings that link to separate setting worksheets.Everything is stored in one place. If I want to see how many words I have in each scene, I just look at the master list of scenes. If I want to see what color eyes Joe Blow has, I just click on the tab that says "Character Profile - Joe Blow" which I created. I don't have to change what I keep track of to fit other people's worksheets. I just create it how I want it done.

I also found a map of the area I'm writing about, copied the graphic to another page in my OneNote program, and I can go in and mark up the map. Now I'll remember that Joe lives next door to Jane Doe, which happens to be 3 blocks north and 2 blocks west of the bar where they met.

Really. I cannot believe that I'm so in love with this software. I've tested various software specifically designed for writing novels and I've always been disappointed, or overwhelmed to the point where I give up.

I was going to buy an iPad for reading ebooks and revising electronically instead of printing tons of revisions, but because of this program, I'm leaning toward buying a Windows slate. And when my iMac dies, I'll replace it with a Windows desktop system.

Of course, as soon as I replace all my Apple electronics, Microsoft will make OneNote available on the Mac operating system.