When you’re revising your writing, do you relish the chance to make it shine or agonize that all your polishing may be for nothing when you need to revise the next draft?
I’ve been doing structural edits on my work in progress, a middle grade thriller, and despite the fact that line edits will be next – the nitpicking examination of each sentence – I can’t stop myself from polishing the sentences even at this structural stage.
Last week’s revisions were the hardest I’ve faced in a while on my work in progress, a middle grade novel that’s my first full-length fantasy. The scene where the very real world meets the magical just wasn’t working, but thanks to some great reading recommendations from twitter (I especially loved Anne Ursu’s BREADCRUMBS), plus some back-to-the-drawing-board scene brainstorming, I’ve got past my roadblock in chapter 7.
I don’t know how I’d forgotten this golden rule of revising: when I am struggling to rewrite a scene, I cannot bring over any old material from the previous draft, and by that I mean not a sentence, not a phrase, not a word. I absolutely need to reimagine everything about the characters’ mindset, assumptions and fears in order to generate realistic interactions, and the realistic dialogue that flows from that.
This meant doing some improv acting, devising a new scene (and, yes, talking to myself out loud in my writing room while I did it), exploring what the characters would say to each other on first meeting.
If I forget, please remind me in future – no! copying! and pasting! I have to start with a completely clean slate, especially when a scene is tricky.
If you’ve had any epiphanies during your writing or revising process, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.
This week! I’m grappling with rewrites on the first five chapters of my new book. I’m hating how hard it is to write exposition, and loving the ‘inside flowers’ website I found that showed a super-helpful (to me) cross-section of a hyacinth blossom.
Inspiration this week came from WOLF WILDER, the glorious wolfish adventure by Katherine Rundell, and from JACK REACHER author Lee Child. And! And! My seedlings started to grow.
My agent Jennifer Laughran has my manuscript out on submission to publishers, which isn’t obsessing me quite as much as I’d expected, probably because these revisions are so all-consuming.
I’m shooting this vlog (badly…but I’m learning) on Snapchat, where you can add me if you like at sheilamaverbuch.
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