Monday, March 21, 2011


I keep setting these deadlines for when I'll have a draft of my novel done (er, a second draft--I finished a first draft a while back, but I forgot to celebrate on here, or really anywhere. It felt awfully anti-climatic, like getting the first coat of paint down on the outside of the White House, knowing that coats two, three, and four and then all that touch up work still await you).

And the deadlines keep whizzing past. It's not because I'm lazy, mind you. It's not even because life keeps getting in the way (not most of the time, anyway). It's because every time I think I know what I'm doing with the novel, something sticks up from the page and reminds me that while I may be holding the reigns, the 300 page/pound beast I'm riding is really in control.

First it was an idea for a new crisis point that I got from a great book, Writing a Breakout Novel, lent to me by the brilliant Robyn Bradley. The book was really helpful as I thought about how to pump up the conflict as I revised, and how to make my characters more realistic. I forget exactly what words of Maass's triggered the epiphany that my main character has to have conflict with some of the people she is closest to, instead of just the "villain" of the book. But whatever words they were, they were both very illuminating, and very much a pain in the ass, since that meant undoing and redoing a lot of the manuscript. (All for a good cause--a better product--of course.)

Next came a point of view shift (from third to first). It felt felt right, but it meant changing the point of view in the ENTIRE BOOK. And that's not as easy as just changing all the "she"s to "I"s, either. It means changing anything that sounds like it's in a narrator's voice to be in a first-person character's voice.

Lastly--for now--came a great idea from a friend and fellow writer who is reading the manuscript, who suggested I make some structural changes. Just a little bit of moving this there, and that here, and this over there... Of course each of those changes means that something else has to move or change. It's like a giant game of Twister, or Jenga, or name your other favorite game where things are tenuous and may fall apart any second.

But, just like those games, revising is fun, too. After all this, I finally have two chapters that I'm really psyched about--a good, solid foundation to start building from once again. Best Blogger Tips


RobynBradley said...

Oh, I feel your pain re: the POV change. I went from third to multiple first in version 1.0 to 2.0, but it was worth it. Have you read Memoirs of a Geisha? Golden went from a completed third-person ms to first-person. Again, I think it was worth it (I loved that book). Be proud of EVERY milestone, Bug (like that first completed draft, which is HUGE!). Happy revising (and thanks for the shout out!) :)

Anonymous said...

I'm raising a glass to you, my friend, who has not only finished the first draft and working on re-revising, but also taking time out to write about your creative process! I'm so glad I get to walk beside you as we share this journey.

Writer Bug said...

Thanks guys. RB, I didn't know that about Memoirs of a Geisha, which I also loved...Can't wait to read your book!

Debka, I love the vision of walking beside each other on this journey. Thanks. Makes a solitary process feel much less lonely!

Phil said...

Just think about how good these changes will feel when the novel is sitting on bookstands.

Bug said...

Hard to imagine it sitting on bookstands...Feels like such a distant dream! But thanks for the nice image, Phil.