Writing is rewriting

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This isn't anything new. It's something I tend to forget when I'm working on the first draft of a project until I'm gently reminded of it as I work through the mess of words I'd thought were brilliant and original as I typed them.

Can you tell I'm in editing mode? Thought so.

What I find most challenging, though, is the number of ways a writer can revise. And no, I'm not talking about revising while listening to music, or drinking hefty amounts of alcohol, or while wearing tin foil wrapped around your head with the hope that aliens will send inspiration your way.

Here are the different revision hats I end up wearing, sometimes simultaneously, which can lead to snickers from curious onlookers:

Revising for clarity
This is finding those sentences or plot holes that make you go "Huh?" Those lapses in logic where your heroine appears in a Parisian cafe in one scene and then on a beach in the next sentence. Or, something I'm really good at doing, having a character react to something that hasn't happened yet.

Revising out the repetition
Yes, I'll admit it. I don't trust myself or my readers during my first drafts. If something really important happens, I'll mention it a few times. In fact, when I mention something a few times, I know readers will understand its importance. Of course, repeating important information can also bog things down and make a reader feel like you don't trust them enough to "get it" the first time around.

Revising for tightening
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with a published mentor (Kate Freiman) who, sentence by sentence, showed me how to tighten my writing so that every word counted. I ended up trimming nearly 1,000 words from the first 20 pages! Although some of those edits hurt a little (and I might have arm-wrestled her over some of them, but she won each time), what words remained were stronger and told a better story.

Revising for believability
I know that fiction is made up, but readers know when a character does something completely out of character. And if you don't have a good reason for them to do that, or even have your character admit that it's something they wouldn't normally do, you lose your reader. The spell is broken. They no longer believe.

Revising for voice
I'm not talking about your writing voice here; this type of revision refers to the voice of your characters in dialogue. Do they sound different? If you took away the dialogue tags, could you tell who said what? In one manuscript I had three, THREE, characters all use the same catch phrases. If they were triplets, I'd understand, but they weren't. And one was an old man. ;)

Revising for emotion
This is probably the most challenging of them all for me because its so easy to feel like you're going over the top. But, as someone wise (who I can't remember) said: "It's better to have too much than nothing at all." And he/she was talking about putting emotions on the page rather than cupcakes at a buffet table. At least I think so.

Revising for typos and grammar stuff
This is relatively easy for me to do, which makes it hard for me to revise in other ways. When you focus solely on the grammar, you can lose a sense of the information being conveyed and the voices of the characters. That's why I try to leave this revision step until the very end.

That about covers it, I think. Are there other types of revising that you do? Please share!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 6:03 PM 2 comments

My Next Big Thing

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year!

Thanks to Joan Leacott, a talented writer of contemporary romance filled with Canadian charm, I've been invited to participate in The Next Big Thing in which I answer ten questions about my current work in progress.

This is a big thing for me, since I feel that posting stuff about a WIP jinxes things. ;)

But it's a new year, a time for doing things differently, right? :::gulps:::

1. What is the working title of your book?

Rats. That's one question I don't want to answer, so let's call it The Book That Will Launch Bonnie's Novel-writing Career. No pressure.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've always wanted to write a story where a girl has to rescue a boy, and suddenly the idea of a boy getting trapped inside a daisy because of a magic spell gone wrong popped into my head. And no, I wasn't consuming alcohol or playing Twister at the time.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Young adult romance with really bizarre elements. That's a genre, right?

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

All the actors that come to mind are way too old to play my 16 and 17-year-old characters. And that might reveal that I'm not 16, even though I act that way. So there.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a twisted take on Beauty and the Beast, a girl discovers that the boy who broke her heart has been magically turned into a daisy, and she's the only one who can rescue him before he turns into compost.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'd rather focus on writing (and revising), so I'd prefer to take the agency route.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

For-e-ver. Joan's 107 days put me to shame. Then again, I do work by day writing copy and magazine articles. Shoot, if I posted how long it took, people will point at me and laugh.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oh my goodness, these questions are hard! Although my novel covers some serious subject matter, it's done with humour. And I can't think of any other books where the hero is stuck in a plant. ;)

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I'm lucky to have a lot of great friends and family members who are very encouraging and urged me to write something "more fun and zany" than my last novel, which kind of veered onto the dark side. Of course, my dark side is more like a light grey one, but it took me to a sad place when I wrote that way.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Petals drop! Romance blossoms! And there's a healthy dose of redemption.

Is there anything else you'd like to know?
Send money now and I'll answer your questions! Operators are standing by!

This is the point where I invite others to post their own answers to the same questions, but I'm going to leave that up to you. If you do decide to participate, please link back to this page and let us know where to find your answers.

Thanks for reading!

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posted by Bonnie Staring at 11:25 PM 6 comments