Monday, December 19, 2011

The Real Work of Writing

I will be living with this
book for the next
few months
I've already started getting invaluable feedback on the novel I wrote over the previous six weeks. The things that I usually get pointed towards are the things that are coming up first and that makes me feel good. I'm aware of what my inherent problems are and that makes the initial pass through a little easier.

But I'm not ready to actually get into editing the thing. I've got a copy printed, I've got my red pen, I've also got ideas for re-titling the book. There's a master list of things I need to work on (supported by the feedback coming in) and I've got my resources near to hand.

Going through Browne and King's excellent book, I've started building a list of questions I have to ask myself as I read:

  • Am I using narrative summary instead of building those stories/descriptions into scenes?
  • How much time do I spend on introducing characters? How much detail do I give the reader? Where I am spending time on a character, is that character essential to the end? Can the reader tell  from what I say about someone if they're going to be involved in the ending?
  • Am I jumping from one character's head to another to achieve different points of view? Is it necessary? Is it obvious when it is necessary?
  • How am I showing the feelings of my characters? Is it all in dialogue or am I describing it for the reader alone? 
  • Finally, in the descriptions of the scenes, am I mentioning details the characters themselves would notice? Are my subplots necessary/advancing the main plot?

The POV issues were something I've been working on this year and I was acutely aware of them as I was writing. I'm curious to see how well I did. I know that I'm weak on descriptions of both character and scene setting when I'm blasting through a Zero Draft. I think I've been pretty good this time around, but there'll always be room to improve. 

I'm not limiting myself to the list above; this is just the first draft list. My experience with editing and revising so far has been mostly over the last year and a half with work I've been doing for others. (Here's a shameless plug for the one book that's out if you're looking for a quick and easy gift for the holiday. There, that's done!)  It can be a frustrating process but the end result is always better, even if it doesn't always resemble the author's original vision. So this is where the real work begins. 

I spent forty-five days telling the story in the format of a novel. Now I have to actually write the thing so that it's readable and recognizable as such. My ego is in the hands of several trusted friends who will be brutal in their assessment of the work so far. I'm anticipating it, ready for it, waiting. I'm anxious to get to work and start the real work of writing.


Prospective Writer said...

I'll be living with that same book for the next few months, myself. I haven't even read all the way through it yet. I'm terrified of the revision process!

Jason Arnett said...

We'll commiserate. I'm sure we won't be alone, either.