This post is maybe 40 percent good intentions and 60 percent vanity, but this is a blog so what do you expect? I started revisions this morning on the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2010. I’m using FocusWriter because I like how it fills the screen with nothing but a blank field. Very useful. What I realized as I was going through this morning was that FW holds onto the string of composition steps for a very long time. Longer than Word might. I mean: you can hold ctrl-Z (i.e. Undo) and watch everything you’ve done over the past hour or two fall away, step by step. Then rebuild it with ctrl-Y. Like magic.
The teacher in me (who just got done teaching a termlong course on improvisation, so I’ve been thinking a lot about what happens in the drafting process) saw an opportunity: record this to show folks your process. I don’t believe anyone cares about my process, but I am always fascinated by others’ processes. So I’m sharing it here.
Now: had I screencasting software, this’d be a lot easier to share and funner to watch. Instead, all I have is MS Word and Adobe. So here’s a PDF file that I recommend you open in Acrobat Reader or whatever you have, full-screen, set to display one full page at a time. Because each page contains each step of the composition process. So if you hit arrow down, you should be able to watch the paragraph (255 words) develop step-by-step.
About this graf, all I’ll say is that I wanted to open the book with something nonfictiony and arguably wrong. Like Tolstoy’s Karenina opening. And then somewhere I knew I’d fall into fiction in the middle of a sentence. Early on you’ll see a whole out-of-voice paragraph with the word gradient underlined. This is pasted in from Wikipedia to help me understand how mirages work.
Anyway, here’s the PDF: Suicide – opening paragraph