This process is much on my mind nowadays, for there's been a change in my thinking about the writing process. Instead of seeing a work in progress as a long, brutal sequence of drafts, I'v come to see it as a lot like filming:
--Months of outlining, research and 'location' work: scouting the book's best settings etc.
--First draft, the literary equal of principal photography--with all the out-takes, bloopers and footage bound for the cutting room floor.
--Post-production. Anywhere from three to six more months of work.
What does that entail? The second draft becomes my starting point. After this initial cleanup, I have a better idea of the novel's 'running time' and can see if the structure is sound. If a three-part book, for example, clocks in at 300 pages and the first part takes up half of those, I've got a problem to fix.
Once upon a time I would have jumped right on that, jumping into the third draft. Not now. No, now for me is not the time to fix stuff or prettify the prose. Page by page, I'm making way like a post-producer with multi-colored Post-it notes:
Lots of these are filled with questions:
--What is the difference in class schedules between Groups A and B?
--What telling details can bring this character to life?
--What are the size and layout of this room?
Other sticky notes are nudgers:
--Flesh this out.
--More crackle in the dialogue,
--Too soon (or too late) for this clue.
--Maybe this should go.
--This isn't quite clear or quite there.
And still other stickies are fillers for blanks in the first draft:
--Quote on insurance frauds.
--Stats on bad faith insurance lawsuits..
--Menu for high-class cuisine.
So what's the difference, some may ask? Grooving on all three parts of the creative process energies and uplifts me. And I'd feel cheapened if I cheated on any of the three. By the same token, I'd feel cheated if I cheapened any part, cutting it short because 'writing' is more fun.
Post-production, for me, is a theme park of fun. And it's at the heart of what I do.
If you haven't already, do give it a try. When you're in the post-production zone your brain looks a little like this: