The Opposite of Popular

The online home of alleged author Victoria Leybourne

a screencap from the end of the video in which four-year-old me has an expression of deep displeasure

2016 Week Twenty: FINISHED! (Kinda)


Well, after two years of hard work and crying (mostly crying) I’ve finished this draft of Faustina. Which is good. Unlike the draft itself, which kind of sucks. I knew that before I finished it, so I’m not that upset about it, but it’s taking the sheen off the achievement to some extent.

But this is nice:

screenshot from Scrivener showing the word count at 83,674

I think one of the main reasons I’m not more proud of this (along with the fact that it kind of sucks) is that I actually wrote a novel when I was 14-15. (Another Beauty and the Beast one. I refer you to my earlier mention of the painting guy in Amelie.) So whenever I think “Hey, I’m writing a novel, cool!”, another voice inside me goes “Oh, well, if we’re getting excited about crap we could do ten years ago, let’s go ahead and put on an entire stick of eyeliner and watch an R-rated movie and really have a good time”.

But now that I’ve at least finished this draft, I can properly compare it to what I wrote when I was a teenager. And that book was a) much, much worse and b) 10,000 words shorter. Suck on that, teenage me. (Also, give up on the eyeliner. You don’t know what you’re doing and I can confirm that you are not going to figure it out in the next 10 years.)

As for the next draft, I have been planning. I started by googling “how to plot a story” and looked at a lot of wiggly graphs for a while (seriously, try it: wiggly graphs for days). Then I figured out actual goals for my characters and which parts of the story could qualify as “inciting incident”, “disaster”, “climax” and so on, with a bit of tweaking. I don’t know why I didn’t do all of this before – I think I assumed that I didn’t need to worry that much about the plot because I was basing the story on Beauty and the Beast but, on closer inspection, I’ve actually made enough changes to that base story that it doesn’t support Faustina on its own.

Having finally worked all that out, I then decided what the end of the story was going to be. The problem I’ve been having so far is that I get, oh, let’s say 60,000 words into a draft, then realise that I can’t think of a sufficiently interesting ending. So, this time, I started from the end and worked backwards. On these:


Headed "Venetian Masks FINAL Draft - planning sheet", this sheet contains sections for act, scene, scene title, purpose of scene, brief summary, detailed summary and notes

I made this but I think it’s based on an idea I got from a book I read in my teens. I don’t remember exactly what that sheet was like or where it came from. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can credit it!

Oh, yeah, Faustina is supposed to be called Venetian Masks now, but it’s hard to get out of the habit. Also note the emphatic use of “FINAL”.

I started by filling in all the “brief summary” and “purpose of scene” sections, working backwards from the end. “Purpose of scene” is really useful because it forced me to think about why each scene was actually there and whether I really needed it – which helped to crystallise what should actually happen in it. At the moment, I’m working on filling in the “detailed summary” sections. The idea is that that will contain a blow-by-blow of what actually happens in the scene: who says and does what and what Faustina (the viewpoint character) thinks about it. Then (the theory goes), the actual writing (or re-writing; I’m keeping some scenes) should be relatively easy, because I know what happens, I just have to worry about how.

I’ll let you know if any of this actually works.

In other news:

Remember when I posted that picture of me meeting dinosaurs in Wales in 1995? Well, here’s a video from the same day. Turns out my parents were pretty mean.

That face though:

a screencap from the end of the video in which four-year-old me has an expression of deep displeasure



5 thoughts on “2016 Week Twenty: FINISHED! (Kinda)

  1. First drafts always suck. I think it’s like a law or something. That’s what the revision process exists for: to turn your sucky first draft in to an awesome book people will want to read. I was saying something similar in my writing post this past Wednesday.

    Also, if teenage you was anything like teenage me, the very fact you’re calling this the first draft and recognizing you need to do revisions is probably a huge improvement on what you’d have done ten years ago. So, tell teenage you to stay in the past where she belongs, and to keep her nose out of what you’re doing now. Then get back to those revisions, secure in the knowledge that you can make your sucky first draft in to something worthy of the name novel.


  2. Pingback: 2016 Week Twenty-One: Playing Ketchup | Victoria Leybourne

  3. Other Victoria is right. First drafts are the suckiest. It’s the way of things. And teenage you needs to hush. However, dinosaur park you is ridiculously adorable!!! I watched the video a couple times and my husband asked why I was giggling at that poor traumatized British girl. Now I’m a monster, I guess.


  4. OH! And I forgot to say, CONGRATULATIONS ON FINISHING!!!


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