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An Ode to Revision

I spent a long time dreading the task of revising my novel.  I think every writer has at some point dreamed of creating a flawless first draft that will liberate her from criticism and have a Pulitzer waiting as she types the final keystrokes (or scrawls the final words with aplomb).

No one really likes criticism. It never feels good for someone to point out flaws, even if they’re being constructive about it. In all the writing groups I’ve been to thus far, there has been this structure of “point out something you like so you can say what you don’t like.” I don’t think I’m alone when I say that after a while of living in that structure, the compliments all start to ring a wee bit hollow. The old ego can really take a bashing when people start digging through your words, picking some out, and tackling others with sledgehammers.

All that said, I’m fixing to add a big however.

However.

(There it is.)

Criticism is how we grow. Even if it’s put rather unkindly, the meat of what’s there could make you a better writer. I have a huge issue using the word “stare.” Why, I don’t know. So-and-so stared at other-character. A stared at B. Asswipe and Poo stared at each other. I also struggle with passive voice and that wormy little creature, the adverb. Sometimes I’m oblivious to my quirks as a storyteller, and I need someone to just say, “Dude. Knock it off with the staring contests already.” Or, “FIND A MORE DYNAMIC VERB!”

If you want to be published, you need all sorts of readers. You need the Parental Figure. They’re the one who loves whatever you wrote simply because you wrote it, and you’re the obvious choice for Best Writer Ever because you are you. They’re the ones in your corner, picking you up when someone bloodies your nose or knocks you out, telling you to get your ass back out there and write. You also need the Eagle Eye, who will go through your work with a fine-toothed comb and circle all your comma splices and thoughtless typos with a fat red pen. You need the Arrogant Richard. That’s the guy or gal who knows better than any Nobel Prize winner what makes good writing. The one who will tell you what sucks and why. Who won’t pull a single punch because they are so damned sure they know better than you do. And you need the First Fanbase — they might be the most important of all, because they read it, get to know it, tell you what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately will tell their friends to buy it off the shelves.

You also need yourself. Stephen King likes to put his manuscripts away for weeks or months after he finishes them, then goes back to read them with fresh eyes. It works. It’s shocking how it can make you exclaim, “Oh my god! I wrote that!” or “Oh. My. God. I…wrote……………that?”

The point of all of this is that revision is a great way to find out what your skill set needs as a writer, whether that’s a crash course in plot or pacing or a return to constructive dialogue and exposition. Let’s face it: that perfect first draft is the writer’s version of finding a winning lottery ticket in a gutter. Part of what makes writers great is the ability to push themselves to make their work better all the time.

So get your vomit drafts. Read them. Revise them, and love what you’re doing.

(Sidenote: I am now 180 pages into the first rewrite of Primeval. And loving it all over again.)

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Aaaaaaugh! End of Year Stress!

So much for that peaceful sail on the coast.  More like plunging through a raging river of death.  Okay, slightly melodramatic there, but a little melodrama never hurt anyone.

My poor WordPress bloggity.  I’ve been neglecting you.  My sincerest apologies.  I’ve been rather sick.  And busy with that whole raging river of death thing.  The silver lining is that all of this junque is almost over, and I shall be free to flit about as I see fit.

This week has been not so good for actually producing anything, but I did go to my writing group on Monday and got some really helpful and awesome feedback on the chapter I submitted.  I am going to use their suggestions for fixing my chapter.  They also asked me to post more, which, as I’ve already discussed, is the highest compliment anyone can give to a writer.  So much work to do…egad, Brain.

I’m hoping — possibly in vain — to get more done this weekend.  However, my boyo’s dad is in town, so that may not happen.  But who knows?  We shall see…

Love and kisses.

Working Out

Turns out, it’s actually a bit of a workout.  Go figure.

After literally six weeks of laying around on my arse, I decided it was about time to get off it and try to lose some of the weight that made itself known to me as I attempted to pour it into a pair of shorts yesterday.  This pair of shorts was a size bigger than what I wore last summer.  Needless to say, the swells of flesh that so stubbornly prohibited my arse from fitting into the denim made their point.  They’ve made themselves at home, and I think I need to evict them.

Hence the workout.

I have been a bit scarce for the last few days.  At least I think I have.  Time has gone all wonky.  I really think there is some sort of rift in the space-time continuum, but that’s neither here nor there.  It is Memorial Day weekend, I suppose, which may excuse any of my scarcity (but would not excuse a rift in the space-time continuum).

I’ma go to the beach!  It’s for a whole two days, but still.  Beach.  Me.  Go.  Picture me, the whitest white girl in white-onia, slathered in SPF 100 so as to look even whiter, lounging in an olive green bikini, feeling self-conscious whilst squishing my toes in very hot sand and trying to think of ways to get my boyfriend to make out with me under the boardwalk.  Yep.  That’ll be me tomorrow.  And I’m serious about that boardwalk thing.  I’ve wanted to do that ever since I heard Bette Midler pound out that song in Beaches. My boyfriend’s plans consist of eating lots of pizza and…sandwiches.  (If you are a How I Met Your Mother fan, you will know precisely to what I am referring by the latter.)  I have only a few things on my agenda:

1.  Play a round of mini-golf.
2.  Eat some Dippin’ Dots and see if they are as good as I always hoped they would be as a child — I was never allowed to get them.
3.  Make out under the boardwalk.
4.  Walk.  A lot.  Preferably on the beach.  This is part of my whole fat eviction scheme.

As you can see, Item 1 has suffered a setback.  The setback is that I am broke, and mini-golf is seldom cheap, particularly in a high-frequency, high-tourist area such as Bethany Beach.  (Why, yes, gentle viewers!  You now know where I will be this weekend.)

I don’t think I will have the money to eat, which is okay because of that whole fat eviction thing.  It’s only two days, anyway.

On that note, I am off to be a nerd and play Fable 2 whilst pondering my story and waiting for the boyo to get off work.

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