Thursday, August 09, 2007

Writing Life: Revision is a Skill, Right?

We aren't born writers. Oh, it's true that some people seem to have an affinity for it. They seem to know what to say and how to say it. I'm not one of those people. I have to flail around and figure it out. I waste time. I cause myself a whole lot of pain and angst. It's an energy drain.

I have managed to make progress, however. One of my readers who is an English major told me I have my own style of writing. (!!) This is a huge compliment for me because I think my writing is just words on the screen. Of course, writing on this blog or writing cool emails to people I really like is completely different from writing a novel. Still, progress has been made because I now have a good sense of how to get a first draft of a novel done.

Yep, participate in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). To recap: that's 50,000 words in 30 days and I did it.

Revision, now, that's whole other thing. How does one revise a novel, something that is living and breathing? The characters are doing their thing, the story hangs together reasonably well, there are plot twists and character development. And it all needs a ton of work.

The first thing I realized after I read the first draft is I had no idea what one of the major character's agenda was. He had an agenda, a huge one, but I didn't know what behind-the-scenes machinations he was orchestrating or putting into motion. I also didn't understand why the main character went along so easily with some questionable things that were being asked of him. Why was he being a wimp? He's supposed to be perceptive and smart, even honorable. Why was he caving in like that?

Those were some of the questions that have been floating through my mind as I hungrily devoured books on writing and articles on the web that might tell me how to revise this novel. I finally took three different techniques and mashed them together. I don't know if I'll continue using these techniques, but they are a good place to start.

Today I started the first step of actually revising, that is changing, the text of this rough draft.

Woo hoo!

I decided to start by answering some of my own questions about the story and characters, even some of the descriptions in the story. We'll see how it all goes. There will be other obstacles I'll encounter along the way, but I may end of learning something about revision after all. I might even end up with a finished novel. Wouldn't that be something?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting stuff. Love your self-analysis and writing about the creative process. Also, I can't believe you're single. You're adorable from what I've seen.