Saturday, July 18, 2009

Manuscript Bloodletting




It's been a tough day. Earlier, I went in and axed an entire scene from my wip. Granted, it was one of those that I was on the fence about, but oy, the revision process has just started and the bloodletting is going full force. Without a doubt, in a few days, my pages will probably start to look a lot like this. In case you were wondering, those notes are from Wave Rider.
Since I have a few minutes to blog and drink my cuppa tea before breaking out the red pens again, I thought I'd share a few new researcherly things I've discovered over the past few days. First things first, let me just take a moment to say I am damn glad I focused on writing this book in scenes.
That may sound bonkers or otherwise completely obvious to some folks out there, but it is something I never really considered until this point. I've always viewed the writing process as tackling chapters. Au contraire. It has worked for me with short fiction, but with long fiction it is apparently another ball game.
I realize now there's no way I could've slogged through this manuscript, even to revise it, if I'd focused on chapters instead of scenes. Apparently, scenes are like the quantum physics at work within each chapter - all important, but not casually noticeable because we tend to focus on the bigger picture. As it turns out, scenes and the conflict in them are what actually propel your story forward. Not the chapters themselves. And let me repeat this for peanut gallery: I am glad I focused on writing this book scene by scene, because I'd be sweating bullets right now if I hadn't.
If you want to know more about scene writing from someone who actually knows what the hell they're talking about, I highly recommend starting here. She has a ton of free to read writing articles that are tremedously helpful. Seriously, it's a vault of knowledge over there. Step in and ask the search box a writing question. I'm sure she's at least touched on whatever you're looking for.
Now for my actual progress. So far it's slim pickins. Over the past few days, I've pinpointed my theme, as well as three subthemes, and did a bit of fact checking. I've consolidated two characters, named a character who is important but had no name, and zapped the guy who got carried off by the plot monkeys in chapter six. I've also cleaned up two scenes. One of them I axed completely this afternoon after determining there was really no way to save it.
Overall, I've revised about 2,000 words total. It feels like there should be much more to show for at this point, but that's it - the full monty. A handful of pages. At the same time, I feel better going slow with this, instead of trying to rush forward. I feel like I'll overlook something important if I do. So until I catch my groove: baby steps. If nothing else, I can look over my shoulder and say chapter one is now behind me. It's not much, but it's a start.
Happy weekend, everyone. And keep writing. :0)

4 comments:

  1. I don't envy you, Cora. I love Scrivener for being able to set up the scenes and then view as index cards or outline but as you found out, I created scenes that were too large.

    This time I'm making very small scenes so I will have more control and hopefully less trouble revising. I love Holly Lisle's articles and books, don't you?

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  2. You know what, Cora? Scenes are the building blocks of novels. It's the only way to make the full picture work. 2k may not seem like a lot but in the scheme of things, it's a great start. Because you're making big picture decisions. You're doing great. Keep it up!

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  3. Marley, I envy your Scrivener. If I had a Mac, that would be the first thing on my shopping list. I'm doing pretty good with the index cards, though. I'm just having to watch out for scenes I wrote that I don't really need in there. I've cut two so far, I'm just hoping it doesn't take my word count down too far.

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  4. That's very true, Isabelle. I'm trying to keep my chin up. It's the slog getting to me, I think. :*)

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