Thursday, January 31, 2019

Notes on a revision

So this blog post is coming atcha late. I've been stuck in my house with my children for daaaaayz. Between random snow squalls and subzero temps, school has been canceled and I want to run screaming from my house. That's not an excuse for a fast blog draft, but maybe you can sympathize. Every time around this year, NEPA locals start planning their southern exodus. I can hear them now: We're moving to [insert southern state here].  It's tough, but we manage. Spring comes eventually. Or maybe it won't. Climate change and all.

I'm trying to revise a novel while also trying to keep my kids from killing each other. When I'm drafting, I welcome distraction because drafting is hard. But when I'm revising, I am hyper-focused and I hate to be interrupted. Because sometimes that perfect idea can slip away in the time it takes to peel a cheesestick for my kids who are starving for the 100th time that day.

One thing you should know about me is that I do not protect my work with any kind of preciousness. It is not "my baby." I am proud of my writing. I think I do my genre proud, but I don't get bent out of shape when I am critiqued. Especially before a book has been properly edited. Oftentimes, I am begging readers to be more harsh. I hate vague niceties. It's good. Blech. Tell me how bad it is. Then I can fix it.

However, I'm never quite sure what crits to apply and what to blow off. When a reader points out something that has been needling me in the back of my head, then I'm quick to make those adjustments. But when a reader points out things that I've never considered, the answer isn't quite as clear.

For example, a reader suggested I combine characters and remove another. That will certainly tighten the narrative, but will doing so also remove conflict that pushes the story along? My biggest fear is writing a boring book. Will inserting a new POV drag down the pace or ramp up the tension? Will taking out a blow to the protagonist make her job too easy or does it tighten the narrative? This is something that takes more time to consider. And, at this stage of having been working on this book for nearly a year, I'm not objective anymore. I just don't know.

So, perhaps, all this time indoors is a blessing. I need time to consider the effects of changes on an entire narrative arc. And that can't be rushed.

Thoughts? Ideas? Tips? I'll take anything.

1 comment:

Carrie Beckort said...

So much this! When my daughter is home on a snow day it drives me nuts how 'hungry' she is all the time. I'm like - how do you survive at school all day!?? Anyway, I totally get you on the revisions. It's one reason I like to have multiple people read it. If they all say something is wrong, then I know I need to fix it. If is just one person saying it and I'm not sure if I agree, I'll sit with it for a while. I'll make a note of it and let it stay in my mind in case it eventually 'feels' right. I'm in a situation now where someone suggested a change to a chapter during our critique group but I didn't really agree. However, a few days later it hit me that something similar earlier on in the story could really tie up a lot of my loose ends. Now I'm going back and trying to find all those little ripples that are affected by that change. I think most of the time you just have to go with what feels right.

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