Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The glory and the grunt work

Now that I've revised until my back is (literally) aching because I sit sort of sideways to look from the hard copy to the screen (I know, I know -- bad author! Bad, bad author!), I'm done for the night. It's tough moving a scene from one chapter (in this case, Chapter 11) to a much earlier one (Chapter 5). You can't just plop it in there; you have to blend it,and then you have to go through the subsequent chapters to see how that change has affected the emotional arc of the story.

This is something some editors don't get at all. They seem to think moving scenes/major chunks of story is no big whoop.

Well, it is, and it means a lot of cutting, rewriting and editing. However, I wanted to get some more activity into the beginning of the story. I tend to write a lot of dialogue, so I have to be careful I don't wind up with a lot of "talking heads." I could also introduce some secondary characters earlier, as well as show my hero being a nice, yet commanding, guy -- bonus!

This sort of revising and rewriting is the real grunt work of the job, as far as I'm concerned. First drafts are tough because it's decision after decision after decision, in addition to describing the characters, making them move and speak -- but it's also the most creative part of the process. It's the "glory" portion of the job and, I think, the one non-writers believe is the only part of the job. But unless you're one of those people who just basically writes one draft and calls it a book (and yes, there are writers who do this, although I am not one of them), this is the part of the process that separates the "wannabes" from the ones who perservere and eventually succeed. It's like the machinery behind the special effects -- it's not glamorous, it's not pretty, but it's got to be done. And it does have its own rewards. This is where my stories get "layers." I add nuance, emotions, and details. I discover new depths to my characters. It's creative, too, but in a different way.

However, this is also the part of the writing that, when people ask you "how's the writing going?" you really can't explain, and if you try, their eyes start to glaze over and they slowly back away.....

No comments: