Rewrite…..Rewrite

Last weekend my Daughter and I went to an Off Broadway show- “Christmas in Hell”. This musical was put on by the York Theater Company, and is currently in previews.  Here’s the thing about previews: everyone involved in the show looks critically at each performance and tried to figure out what tweaks will make the show better.

Before the Saturday evening performance, the artistic director stood on stage and welcomed us to the production. He made the easy joke about Christmas in Hell was being performed in the basement of a Lutheran Church and btw, Happy Hanukah.  And then he told us that the first act of the show had been changed since the last preview performance because they had done some reworking that morning to make the meaning and timeline more clear.

That morning.

That morning they moved scenes around, changed dialogue here and there, etc.

For a musical that had already had a few performances.

The Author changed his play.

As you can see, I’m still baffled by this because I get freaked out by editing.

I’m presently in the heavy editing phase of my book. And I’m presently in the land of not wanting to cut things that aren’t working. I’m firmly entrenched in letting scenes, no matter how inconsequential or wrong, stay on the page. I am having trouble divorcing myself from the words that I have written.

When I (substitute yourself if you fall into this category) put words on a page, these words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters become my baby. I have given birth to these things, and Mama wants to protect her baby at all costs.  How can my baby not be the prettiest thing in all the world?  I wrote it…

Ego.

We all need at least a semblance of an ego in order to survive. We have to have confidence in who we are and what we do. But…we can’t let that ego get the better of us.  We have to be able to distinguish the right path from the not so right path. And we have to know when and how to edit our work.

I’ve been having trouble with rewrites on my third chapter, which in my work is a necessary but odd chapter as I do a quasi flashback. The scenes in this chapter are pivotal to the plotline of the rest of the book. And I had one scene…. My writing group friend said as gently as possible that a certain scene just didn’t work.  And I know she is right. I know exactly what she is saying. But I still had trouble reworking it.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I just deleted the offending paragraphs and retooled it.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s better. It’s tighter. It’s a better use of words to describe the situation.

Part of me feels much better that I reworked and retooled.  And part of me thinks I let down my baby- that I didn’t think baby was good enough…

That’s the difference between writers who publish novels, and writers who have a manuscript in the draw- published authors know how to divorce themselves from the words on a page- to know that they are just words that can be replaced by other words.

I need to remember that editing doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Editing means you’re making something better.

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March Writing Update

I finished my writing class a few weeks ago.  On the whole I found Fiction 2 very helpful.  I thought my teacher did a really great job at teaching us how to move a story forward.  I think it was a good decision for my to take this class, though I am opting to not take a class this semester. I may take one again in the fall, but I know my free time is lacking over the next few months, and I am loving working with my informal writing group consisting of women I met in class.

I’m working on rewrites of my novel.  I’m about halfway through, and the biggest thing I’ve realized is that I need to listen to my gut feelings about things.  Getting feedback from readers is extremely valuable, but sometimes it’s not always advisable to make the corrections they think you need.  Sometimes, their opinion is based on their particular life circumstances.  When receiving feedback you need to really disseminate the helpful form the not so helpful.  For example, when I presented work to Fiction 1 class, they gave me suggestions.  When I incorporated the suggestions and presented it to Fiction 2, their critique was that I should have done it differently (more like the way I originally did it)  Maybe my first draft wasn’t well written, but the idea behind it was solid.  I just needed to rework my idea.

I have learned that I have a very macro approach to work.  It’s most noticeable when I critique my writing group works.  I’m finding that I’m clearly focusing on the arc of a work- looking for the beginning, middle and end.  I’m more focused on making sure the characters have credible growth or non growth throughout the work.  I am less focused on the micro aspects when I’m first reading.  In my mind, the outline has to be solid before you start focusing on sentences and word choice.  I’ve seen people write beautiful sequences, but they have no rhyme or reason as a whole work.  I’ve become to think of it as a writer writes things, an author tells a story.  I don’t know if this is right or wrong, I only know it’s how I feel.

My next bit of self discovery deals with emotions.  Remember a few weeks ago I talked about how I’m a numbers girl trying to be a writing girl?  Well, I notice that when  I write I am stingy with emotion.  I think that’s part of my analytic, logical gene poking through.  I know I can be emotionless in many situations: I have to get past this when I’m writing, especially as I’m writing a love story.  Love stories should include some sort of emotion.

On the advice of my writing teacher, I am waiting to look for an agent.  He thinks I should have a solid second draft that includes all the plot holes I have discovered.  I think he’s right, so that gets pushed off for at least two months.

And then there’s my blog, which I still love writing, and look forward to writing every day!

So get out there and write!!

 

 

The Write Month

Ok- I admit it.  I can never remember the name for the writing challenge this month.  I have a good memory for some things, a lousy memory for others. But the point is:

Who’s working on their novel this month?

You all know I want to finish my novel.  You should also know, that after taking a writing class, I scrapped my initial intent to write the novel in 3rd person and switched to 1st person.  This requires a lot more than changing a few words.  This requires changing everything.

The upside:  I am so much happier with the way my character is developing.  I’ve brought a relatability and an intimacy that the character was lacking, and I felt I needed.  In third person, my character seemed cold and sterile.  In first, she is almost charming.  I know!!  I’m writing a charming character!  I didn’t think it could be done, but it just might!!  I’m also doing that talk to the screen type of technique.  I sort of have the narrator talk to the reader of the book, so they’re in on the secret.  Spoiler alert:  my book contains a secret.

I’m still having issues with giving details.  I realize that details are essential to a novel- they paint the mind picture for the reader.  I just don’t know how much to dole out at a time.  I don’t know when I’m being top heavy with adjectives, so I tend to minimalize.  Yes, I know- bad idea.  I know what’s in my mind- readers don’t.  Now- there are often times I think that no one in their right mind should be in my head, but that’s a whole other story.

I’m liking my character.  She has many of my good traits- think tea and organization.  But her bad habits are WAY different than mine.  She is much funnier than I am.  It’s amazing to me that I, the least funny person in real life, can write characters that are funny.

But anyway…..

Oh- my teacher suggested that I don’t use …… or -.  Now, if you’ve read me for awhile, you know that I can’t write without these devices.  So, the hardest part of my novel writing experience may be not using ….. or -.  Seriously- I tried writing yesterday and these things just magically appear on the page.  I will need to attend ellipses anonymous.

But the good news.  I scratched out 1700 words yesterday (on my novel, excluding my blog ).  yay me.

Alas- writing month should really be in February, when I am hunkered down hibernating.  November in New York is glorious, and I plan a lot of outings.  Think of it as a squirrel storing nuts for the winter- I store memories to get me through the arctic NYC winters where I need to walk everywhere, every day.  I need memories of ballets and concerts to motivate me out the door.

So today will be a Good Luck to all of you writing 50,000 words this month.  It’s a big task, but I know each and every one of you is up to the challenge.  I look forward to reading every novel once it’s published!!!  And there are a few of you I will be requesting signed copies from.  Jay- that’s a hint…….

What to expect from me?  Probably a daily word count.  I’m sure I will tell you when I’m at a crossroads.  I will not be blogging on the weekends.  I have a great deal of trouble writing Saturday and Sunday when my family is around (they really are annoying) and I will be spending my alone time working on my 1700 or so words.

Here goes nothing!!!