I’m plugging away on the second draft of my novel at the moment. Which means character work. In my first drafts, I grope my way into some semblance of plot, while second draft is about getting to know my characters better (which also means refinement of the plot, of course, because character drives plot).
And I’ve stumbled upon a wonderful (ahem) new way of working on second draft. Writing longhand! I know. I know. But I’ve not tended to write fiction longhand, having spent years as a journalist working straight to the keyboard. I've had the idea that longhand slowed me down and that transmitting straight from brain to keyboard was most efficient.
And this all came about quite by chance. My five-person (five-woman, actually) writing group organised a two-day writing workshop taught by the very experienced teacher and much-published Dr Kathryn Heyman. Her workshop offered me pitch-perfect guidance and inspiration – and I’ll post about that another time – but the workshop also obliged me to do writing exercises in a notebook. Thus I became re-acquainted with ink and paper.
So, while I work away on second draft, I write on the computer until I get the feeling that I Need To Know More about my character. Then I freewrite in my notebook under headings like: Right now she wants. Or What's he feeling now? Or She's thinking about.... Writing longhand I uncover more interesting and surprising things. It’s transformed how I feel about second draft (which is often hard territory because the fun exploration of first draft is over and I have to think more technically to solve problems, and all the while the story is not quite working yet, offering many opportunities to feel disheartened).
I know the wonders of longhand will be old news to many of you. Now I am searching for the perfect pen. Any suggestions welcomed.