Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Story Overhaul

I'm on page 233--past the 84,000 word mark--and at a point in the story where I only have to prolong it long enough to get Madeline to meet Henry's sister, be needlessly nervous about the meeting, have Henry say that he wants to wait to marry until he can afford a house of their own, and then have him officially propose. Oh, there's a love scene in there somewhere and then I wanted to skip a month or so to a village assembly when Mady comes out of mourning and wears a pink ballgown threaded with silver in the skirt and dances for the first time with Henry.

After that love re-affirming scene (and crucial for Madeline's sister Alexandra's story--she's not of mourning at the assembly, for her own reasons), I need to mention the villain being punished (because don't you hate it when the villain goes unpunished?),skip till near Christmas and the wedding, have Henry and Mady getting ready to take off to their new home and have Alex missing at the send-off...with a guy...

So, yeah, quite a bit to go. Then I plan on going through it via Track Changes, snarking on my own writing, and adding/ taking away/refining/smashing my head into a keyboard. Deciding whether my characters makes sense. Deciding whether anything makes sense. You know, revising.

I remember being in like, I don't know, 4th or 5th grade, when we were all learning about the writing process. They had us calling the first draft the "sloppy copy," then you were supposed to rewrite whatever it was in your neatest handwriting and hand it in. I will admit, I was not always good at this. I'm impatient by nature and so having to do something all over again was not a prospect I enjoyed. Since high school, I have been told that everyone's writing process is different, but since I'm still discovering a process that works for me, this is all kind of unchartered territory.

How do you guys revise? Is revising fiction different from revising an essay? Do you revise by hand or by track changes?

I'm far enough in this story to know that the subplot (the bit with the villain) needs to be stronger. Descriptions need to be better. The ending pages probably need the most overhaul, since I have a dreadful tendency to run out of steam after a while. Another part of the plot needs more research--which is fine, because I bought a book on Amazon last night for 30 cents that'll help me with that.

Then, of course, the whole romance needs work, too.In other words--you know, everything.

Ideally, I'd like someone to read it over after I track change it. I didn't realize it at the time I was taking writing workshops, but intelligent, relevant comments are a huge help in figuring out why something doesn't work. Or if something works at all.

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