William A. Hainline: Reality Engineer

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Writing A Second Draft

Well, I've decided to pursue writing a second draft of the book. Why? Didn't I just oh-so-proudly unveil the major, finally-finished draft of the book just a few months ago? Wasn't that the version that was finally "going to the editor after the beta-readers finished it?" Well, ye-e-es, and no. See, I let my beta-reader Ana read through the first three chapters of it. And I let my friend Greg read through it, too. He had less problems with it than she did, let's just say that. Well, no, let's say a little more, shall we? Yes, let's. The problems Ana uncovered weren't just prose-related, or structural. They were conceptual. There were problems with the characters. Problems with the way I'd written them. Problems with the way I had set up and executed the plot. Problems with the way I had handled the conflict, and problems with the way I had handled the fight scenes . . . and yes, on top of all that, there were problems with the prose, and the structure, and the way I had gone about certain other stylistic choices. So all in all, the book was full of problems. And I didn't just take Ana's word for it, either. I read through it with her, and we had many conversations where she would walk me through the text, and she'd show me specific examples of things, and we'd talk about why they worked or didn't work, and why or why not. And then she'd show the meta-examples, and the meta-data. And how this affected that, structurally, etc. Together, we went through those first three chapters and I made a list of everything that was wrong, everything that needed to be corrected. it was a long list.

And man, at first, I was so bummed. So completely torn up over it. I had failed. Worse, the book had failed. It was an utter crapfest, the whole thing. It needed to be rewritten. Again. What a waste of . . . well, now hold, I told myself. Not a "waste of effort." It was a good effort, i told myself. And besides, like Stephen King had said: The first draft was you telling yourself the story; the first draft was you getting it all down on paper for yourself, downloading it from out of your head and down onto the paper . . . saving it from the RAM memory of your skull and onto the "hard drive" of the written word. Exactly. So now what I needed to do . . . was write the second draft. Which, I told myself, would be much different. Things would have to change. A lot of things. Characters would need to have their backstories rewritten; some characters would have to be eliminated altogether; new characters would need to be created; the entire story arc of the book would need to be altered somewhat; the plot would need to change a bit; the climactic scenes could mostly be the same, if I maneuvered my puzzle-pieces into the right places beforehand, if I was careful enough . . . so yeah. Second draft, here I came. I was actually psyched for it. I could do this. I knew I could. I just needed to get revved up, "fired up, ready to go," like Obama used to say. I had this. Hell, I have this. I just needed the right kick in the butt to get me going.

And then I saw the next trailer for Ready Player One. And that finally clicked everything into place, for some reason. I realized just how hot geek culture is right now. And then I got the last little bit of inspiration I needed. I logged onto io9, to read some geeky news for a moment, and there, I saw a discussion thread absolutely trashing the new fan-art posters for RPO. Why were they trashing RPO? Because they are geeks, and geeks love to have wars over things sucking and not sucking, and RPO is just about the most polarizing book/movie in the world right now. But, as a fan of RPO, I was incensed. I was furious. And that spark of anger ignited the creative fires. I had the last little bit of inspiration I needed.

And with that, I set to work.

I don't know when the second draft will be ready. It could take anywhere from six months to nine months, to a year. Probably closer to eight or nine months. Somewhere in that area. But I do know that so far, it . . . is . . . awesome. And you guys are gonna love it.

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