Illustration by Lee Kyutae
I started reading Draft 3 of TUBE yesterday, in preparation for Draft 4, and I was astounded by how easy it was to see where the story was trying too hard and where I was trying too hard, and to make mental notes on cutting out those bits without mercy (I no longer write on Post-it notes like I used to, I don't follow them anyway).
I finished writing Draft 3 on March 21st. Today is June 28th, so about three months have passed. That's a significant break compared to two-three weeks I used to take off between drafts of one novel (that is, before I started sandwiching drafts of two different novels). And I tell you, I think I'll be sticking with this formula for a while. At least until I figure out something better.
There are bits on every page where I'm afraid, and so I've written expositions and explanations that nobody needs. It's like someone underlined them all in red and they're glaring me in the face. The worst bits are the time the story happens in, the names of the characters used too much in the fear of the reader getting lost, the descriptions of surroundings, the supporting statements to the dialogue that make sure the reader gets enough backstory, and the like. Well, you know what? To hell with backstory! It only makes the present story weaker, pulls it away from the NOW. That's what I've noticed with this draft. Whenever I go into the past or into the future, it slows down the pace and the story starts dragging. Unless I make the past happen in the NOW and shift time, and unless I make the future happen NOW and shift time. Curious, no? Kind of like the concept of happiness of being in the NOW. I wonder if it applied to novels, or to storytelling in general. We want to be THERE, after all, it's why we read, and what better place to be than in the NOW? The invented non-existing NOW that is so real we believe it is real?