I Finished My First Draft, Now What? (The LAST #WatchMeWrite!)

FIRST OF ALL: late Happy Holidays! (Or, whichever variant you prefer. 'Tis not the season for arguing.) If you haven't done so yet, please please please do fill in my end of 2015 survey. I promise to bring you more magic, madness, and murder in your takeout in 2016. :D

As you might know, I finished the first draft of WITCHES BLACK AND SILVER, my Swan Lake + Mulan retelling, in November.

Two things on Twitter! First, #novelaesthetics has been trending lately, and I did one for Matryoshka, and another for WIBAS:
Secondly, Emily and Cait are holding a #rewriteathon! You should join in by using the hashtag on Twitter, although I'm too busy with exams.

Still, before exam season started, I made #WatchMeWrite an outline of my already-written first draft:
Warning: turn DOWN the volume on your computer. The Force Awakens trailer boasts very loud music.
Or click to view in new tab.

(Pssst! Join my takeout army within these two weeks, and I'll send you a little WIBAS-related gift! Hint: it involves food. And CAKE.)
Basically, this process helps me go through my novel and figure out what major elements are missing or need tweaking. There are my major findings:

1. Retelling elements

Somewhere along the line, I seemed to have forgotten that WIBAS was a retelling. Which is crazy, because it was born out of an idea that I might mash up Mulan and Swan Lake. Fantastic idea, yes or yes?

So in the second draft, I'll be reinforcing ALLLL the parallels. On the Mulan side: crossdressing and disguises, martial girls, a family back home. On the Swan Lake side: duality, curses, and the entire idea of female competition.

2. Pacing

I've always struggled with this, to be honest. I hit the halfway point in terms of chapter count and realised, wait, I'm still setting stuff up. My novel starts off on a high-tension point and drops to really low from Act 1.5 to Act 2.5. Going to crank it up a little over there — I promise not to kill too many characters.

3. Atmosphere + Chinese elements

I've actually been framing WIBAS as VICIOUS meets THE NIGHT CIRCUS. The funny thing is, because I throw all prose out the window in the first draft, the Night Circus vibe isn't really very strong because that's one of the most atmospheric, beautifully and lyrically written books I've ever read ever.

So I'll be amping up the creepy and of course vicious atmosphere in the second draft. I'll also be adding more worldbuilding setting-wise, especially with respect to Chinese elements. And yes, I'll be talking about Chinese cake. (Not takeout so much, unfortunately.)

If you like the sound of this Mulan + Swan Lake retelling ... did you know I share secret sneak peeks and progress updates? It's true! Get them here:

Stay updated on Alyssa's Chinese-inspired fantasies!

Also: judging from preliminary survey results, I probably won't continue the #WatchMeWrite series in 2016 ... so this is THE LAST ONE. EVER.

HALP. Any suggestions to make WIBAS fabulous? What's your favourite cake?!? (that's not really relevant, I just thought I'd ask.)

#WatchMeWrite is a campaign started by E. R. Warren and Samantha Chaffin, wherein writers record their process, speed it up, add music, and show it to the rest of the world. Here are all past #WatchMeWrite videos!

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