Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Editing is a Nightmare!

There comes a time in every new author's life when they reach a momentous occasion. It's a happy day. A day to celebrate annually, a great big deal:  the day they finish their first rough draft. But after the initial shock of the accomplishment wears off, reality hits. Not to burst my own bubble here, but there's still a lot more work to do.

Having finished my own first draft before the end of 2012, I first had to lock myself away like a werewolf for the suggested 4-6 weeks to let the details of the book leave the forefront of my mind. Being slightly obsessive in nature, this was only minimally successful. Continually, I thought about the book. I had to tighten the finger cuffs to prevent myself from digging in early and mentally, I had already begun battering it down to the point where I was ready to toss the whole thing into the recycling bin. (Yes, even when we are being dramatic, we must remain environmentally conscious.) Had it not been for a fellow writer reading my rough draft and convincing me that it was worth fixing, I'd be 70,000 words in the hole!

And now, after waiting for the requisite time frame, I have begun editing. But since I don't know what works well for me, I'm trying all kinds of approaches. I've been told to read it through, make notes, then go back and start fixing it with small stuff first. That didn't really work for me. Parts of the book are too slow, and the issues that I want to fix are too big that it was distracting. I have this wee devil sitting on my shoulder telling me how it's no use to read it, because my time is spent better fixing it. I hate that little thing.

Then I began writing over the original with the new "voice"I thought it needed. It didn't take long before I realized that I was writing a whole other book at which point I had to stop writing (with like 5 versions of the story saved with various points stirred around) and think. Think. Think. Think. And start reading it again. And think. Think. Think some more. For days now, I've been thinking, pondering, reading other books in my genre, and then thinking until my thinker is all thunked out.

Is the original so bad? No. Really it's not. It can't stand on it's own yet, but it's not a total wash.

Is the rewrite better? Not exactly, it's just different.

So what then? Meld them together? Perhaps. That's still not it though.

At this point, and this is still early in the very cumbersome and awkward process of editing my first rough draft. I have opened a blank document and am compiling the bits that I like of each and gluing them together with new ideas. I'm not exactly sure where that leaves me.

The original was a good start but there's a better book in there.

I think that we just have to do what is right for us. You can get advice from every angle, read tutorials and how-to books about the craft, you can seek feedback from others, but at the end of the day, WE are the ones writing. WE get to make the choices what twists and turns the story takes, WE get to choose what does and doesn't make it through the final edits and trusting your gut is sometimes what you have to do. (As long as your "gut" isn't making choices based upon laziness or self-loathing)

We live and we learn from the process, and much like I will have to watch my children learn their own lessons, you will all have to watch me crash and burn if I must- but I WILL finish it...eventually.

So put on your flame retardant pajamas because it's going to be a late night.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Verisimilitude. What does that even mean?

This isn’t one of those 'word-a-day' calendars, and yet here I am throwing out words I’ve never used but plan to…in three…two…one--

Verisimilitude is the word that I’ve been avoiding in my writing…well not the use of it, but the effect of it. It’s believability, the appearance of truth, and it’s really getting under my skin.

Confession time. I’m not a very patient person. (Ok, whew, glad that’s off my chest.)One of the great things about writing fiction is that you can create worlds and if you write it, it happens. Right? Well, sort of. You can write about flying gorillas and worlds that exist inside of peanuts, but if you do like me and rush right into the thick of things without doing some research somewhere along the way, you’ll find yourself in a great big mess.

This is something that I’m learning as I type this.

I hear that J.K. Rowling had boxes of notebooks where she evolved her world on paper. Boxes?! And guess what? People of all ages love her story. They can’t get enough. Was it worth the plotting and planning? Absolutely. Is it totally necessary to create a good story? I don't know that we need dozens of notebooks full, but I’m realizing that without some research, we don’t know our world as well as we should to make it believable, and that is what engages readers…unless I want to write about a slightly nutty mother of three that lives in the Midwest. Interested? I didn't think so.

It will be a lesson in patience but it must be done.

It frustrates me to be in the mode to write yet sit down to the computer and scratch out meager tidbits about setting, characters, you know, the things that make a story fun? I want the entree- no potatoes, no parsley, just get to the story. Words on paper. Yet that’s not enough and I, like everyone else, must take the time and appreciate all parts of writing, even the slow ones that make us feel like we wasted our day doing nothing at all.

Verisimilitude. Research it. Own it. Make people believe (at least temporarily) that it could really happen.