Last year when I finished the first draft of Red Robin, I printed out a copy so that special k could read it. This was very exciting to me – considering that the longest conversation we’d ever had about my romance novel at that time went something like:
ME: So there’s this duke.
HIM: Hold on. Do you know how many dukes actually exist in the world? Isn’t that a little farfetched?
ME: So there’s this duke, and his name’s Roscoe.
HIM: Roscoe. Why did you call him Roscoe? I don’t think that was even a name back then.
ME: Never mind.
But Red Robin was an action! adventure! story, though sadly with no laser guns, no matter how often special k brings it up. So I printed off a copy, excited and a little nervous, and not sure he would actually get through the whole thing.
Special k reads slowly (he can take actual months to read a book. I don’t even know how that’s possible), so I knew that even if he did get through it, there was no way a sheaf of 90-odd loose pages would survive that long.
Because I was getting it printed at Officeworks it was the work of a moment to say, “Oh, hey, and can you bind it?” No fancy front or back, just a spine to hold the thing together. Funny thing though – when I held the bound draft in my hands it made me feel differently about it. The success of writing a story to the end was more tangible. I could flick through it and get a plastic sense of the story’s pace and arcs.
Writers will often print off scenes, because you see things differently in different media. This whole bound-draft thing was that – levelled up. It allowed me to see the draft as a coherent whole, which is vital when you’re doing structural edits.
Thus a tradition was born. When a draft is finished, I print and bind it. I love the idea of building up a library of drafts.
That makes it sound like I’ve done this many times over, which I haven’t. Turns out, writing a book takes a long time! Last week I finally got to print out a draft of My Lady Untamed:
and just in case you can’t get a proper sense for JUST HOW MUCH WRITING THIS IS:
The copy of the Robin was for Ken to read, so I never had the satisfaction of taking a red pen to it. This manuscript is all red pen. For example:
It’s a teensy weensy bit daunting, because it’s almost three hundred pages full of red pen. However, the scenes I’ve worked on so far are already so improved, that I’m feeling quite hopeful about this process.
For any writer out there listening, I thoroughly recommend the print-and-bind method.
Also – I FINISHED MY DRAFT!! I was so convinced this was never going to happen that my sole goal going into this year was: Finish The Book. And it’s only March. Whatever will I do with the rest of the year?