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dragging revisions

Oh, I am the easily amused type.

I will play with the snow on WordPress All. Day Long. Move my cursor back and forth to watch the flake flow change as if buffeted by breezes unseen.

That’s enough alliteration for one day.

I love the annual WordPress Snowfall so much I changed by background to a dark spacey thing to make it show better. Sure, it takes forever to load, but it’s just until January. HUMOR ME.

I am still in the revising doldrums, very soon done. And that’s my testimony about revising today:

DON’T HURRY THE ENDING.

I’ve been three chapters away from finishing this revision for about, oh, six chapters now. How does this happen? Am I futzing around, going in circles because I don’t know how to end the dang book?

mylittlewtfony

Am I fooling around because I have a fear of finishing?

decisivegal

 

Here’s what has happened: layers.

I’ve discovered several more layers to my main character, which twisted the plot a bit. Which is ramping up the tension as I near the end, and of course, will make the climax sing like an opera.

I admit I’m a little impatient to be finished with this draft so I can be on to something else while it simmers a bit, then start fresh on the third draft. (I do love my own work. *cough*) But I’ve read an awful lot of books with hurried endings. It’s an easy trap to fall into, assuming the reader is as ready to be done with the story as you are.

HOWEVER.

You may have been working on your novel for a year by the time you get to the end, but your reader has been working on reading it a considerably shorter time.

You’ve got to maintain the same enthusiasm for the story you want the reader to have.

huzzahzshehazitt

 

listen to your characters

Yes, I am still on my second draft.

No, I’m not stuck. I’m churning out pages like a house a-fire.

My plot has evolved and a lot of my revising has turned into rewriting. In fact today a COOL HUGE TYING-TOGETHER-TWIST has come to me.

How did this miracle happen?

I spent time with my characters.

Character and plot are inseparable–after all, who drives the plot? Your characters BETTER drive the plot. If they don’t, if they are simply victims of an outside force, it’s not a book, it’s a puppet show.

Plot is not a series of occurrences, it’s a story that happens to a particular group of characters because of who they are, where they’ve come from and the choices they make.

Let your characters guide you. They know the way.

 

draft two

So I have the revised outline as my story will be.

My first draft, printed out.

My story bible.

Time to Boogie.

My next step is:

Read through the first draft with my outline as my story will be ,making revision notes. I write directly on the manuscript, add post-it notes where I think I might miss my notes, add those little tabs where I want to point to a specific line. I move chapters, add chapters, mark out chapters. I BREAK MY HEART.

This revision pass, I concentrate on PLOT, and to a lesser degree, pacing. Of course I will fix anything else that sticks out at me as I come across it: dialogue, voice, setting, etc., but my main thrusts at this point are plot and pacing. I want to get the story straight so I have a firm foundation of STORY for my characters to act and react in.

However, character and plot can’t really be separated. So keep in mind as you revise that your plot choices will be informed by your characters’ personalities and values.

Choices. You haz them.

yeah, scene surgery, but what else?

Conflict.

Open up your creaky gray matter, and hearken back to what your literature teacher told you about the three types of conflict:

Man VS Nature

Man VS Man

Man VS Self

Or something like that.

Each chapter should be replete with conflict. Nay, each SCENE should have conflict.

Some conflict is more conflicty than others. Whether it’s tiny tensions, minor disagreements, friendly banter, something has to push and pull in your writing.

Even if your chapter is about a happy family dinner, the cook will  be in a race with the clock and the stove. Dad will be fighting the traffic to get home. Junior will be disentangling from friends and finishing homework. Minor, yes, but a good writer can make it entertaining enough to keep the reader going until you get to the important plot-stuff.  And a REALLY GOOD writer makes it ALL about the plot-stuff.

plot—planned or spontaneous? let’s call this part one

I’m either very, very brave…

screamiemeemie

…or very, very stupid.

areyousureaboutthat

I’ve just finished chapter seventeen of my WIP. It’s was a big son-of-a-wookie. Originally 2100 words, I managed to whittle it down to 2255. (!!!) What’s next? Why, chapter 18, of course. Duh!

Oh. You want to know what’s going to go in chapter 18.

Absolutely no clue.

Now, before you HAVE A FREAK OUT, I never know what’s going to go in the next chapter. I know where my WIP is going, I generally know where it’s going to end up, but I don’t know how it’s going to get there. And I like it that way.

thevoiceofreason

Last week, while I was waiting for the orthopedist to put his unbearably cold mitts on my bum knee, I realized something about the denouement of my WIP that I hadn’t before. (I don’t like it, but that’s the way it’s got to happen.) If I had the thing already all mapped out, it would have been a lot harder for me to think “outside the box” and come up with my extremely brilliant plot point. And even harder to change something I had already worked into a detailed outline.

I’ve heard/read/made up people who say they’re “afraid” to proceed with their writing without a plan.  Heck, where’s the fun in that?  I suspect  people who say they hate writing but love having written might have taken all the joy out of their discovery process by planning their masterpiece within an inch of its life.

Don’t be so afraid of hitting a wall that you take the same four-lane highway every hack does.  Take the backroads, the country lanes.  Machete your way through the jungle.  That’s where you’re going to find the treasure.

Yeah, I love a metaphor.

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