Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sea Change

As some of you might recall, I've spoken often about revising. Well, much of the revising I've done before (and my nattering about it) was little more than a tune-up. Kicking the tires. Right now, I'm immersed in an engine overhaul. I might even have to trade in the car. It's invigorating, terrifying and thrilling. It's taking all of my concentration (just ask anyone in the house who's looking for clean laundry. Or dinner.). Here's the big paradigm shift I've come to understand: I am now fitting the old parts worth keeping into the new, rather than plopping the new sections into the old. Just understanding that has made a huge difference--and made it much easier for me to scrap whole chunks. Delete entire scenes. Toss away pages.

So, now I'm back to work--my posts might be a little scattered for a week or two, but I'm having a blast, drinking lots of coffee, and occasionally coming up for air. And, speaking of looking at things in a new way and feeling inspired about all possibilities, I'll leave you with this:

11 comments:

Carleen Brice said...

Good for you Judy! Isn't it funny that at first it seems horrible to have to get rid of whole scenes (whole chapters! entire characters!), but then once you (I should say I) do it, the story opens up again. Writing my first novel over 4 times (which I don't recommend!) helped me get real comfortable with the idea of letting go.

slpenney said...

I struggle with this too and am THRILLED that it is working for you!

Way to go, girl!

Lisa said...

Judy, When I hear experienced writers like you and Carleen talk about how much re-visioning is needed to get from a first draft to a final, polished manuscript, I feel so relieved. No matter how crazy it is, it seems like early on I have high expectations for my first drafts and you've really helped me to ease up and give myself permission to write crap and make "yuck" notes that I can deal with later. Finishing is my big goal right now and despite my earlier obsession with tinkering, I have not gone back to play with any of my previous chapters. My word count is up over 22K in eight weeks of writing at night and on the weekends and I actually think I might reach "The End" in another two or three months! Then I'll start the surgery or maybe start over completely and save the 100 words I like. :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Carleen--yes, that's it exactly. As soon as I pry my fingers loose from a scene or character, the skies clear and the story makes sense again. But, damn, it can be a struggle.

Stacie--thanks! And it's good to hear from you again.

Lisa--Glad we can help show you the way . . . even if it's a pretty twisty, rutted road. (Just steer around the pot holes.) I'm so impressed with the challenge you've taken on--and I know I haven't dropped by yet this week. I promise, I will. And I do think there will be more than 100 good words!

Daisy said...

When I'm writing professional items (articles, papers, etc.) the revision process is tedious, but not painful. I'd think revising your own creation would be so much harder. I'm in awe of novelists!

Julie Layne said...

I'm really struggling with ditching a subplot in my WIP because I really love it, but I am afraid it detracts from the real story. I know I can recycle it later in another story that belongs to it alone, but man, it's hard! It would also require me to reintroduce some of the same characters in the new story, because the characters are needed in both, and I'm feeling some resistance to that--I think mainly because I'm just so sick of them after working on the WIP for a year. :-)

I'm with Lisa--it's always helpful to hear more experienced writers say they struggle with some of the same issues.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Daisy, it can be tough, but also, when I finally unload a paragraph or scene that wasn't quite working, it feels very freeing.

Julie, I say ditch it. But save it in another document. You never know when you might resurrect it. And, who knows how it will have changed by the time you finally get back to it.

Larramie said...

Enjoy! ;)

The Writers' Group said...

Hi Judy,

Sounds like you're in the exhilarating phase. I'm in the exhaustion phase, and I just wrote about it for The Writers' Group blog.
All worth it in the end, though so hang in there. Lynne

Kristy said...

Go Judy! I can't wait to read it! :-)

(And yes, we can...)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Larramie, Lynne, and Kristy, thanks for the moral support! This morning it occurred to me it's sort of like cleaning out my closet and knowing I should toss out those jeans that used to be my favorites, back when they fit, but, dammit, they don't anymore and they never will again, but it can be so hard to ditch them. But, when i do, boom, more room for new clothes.