Writing Life: The Rewards of Patience

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“That’s the magic of revisions – every cut is necessary, and every cut hurts, but something new always grows.”  ― Kelly Barnhill

“The writer must have a good imagination to begin with, but the imagination has to be muscular, which means it must be exercised in a disciplined way, day in and day out, by writing, failing, succeeding and revising.” ― Stephen King

“The best advice I can give on this is, once it’s done, to put it away until you can read it with new eyes. When you’re ready, pick it up and read it, as if you’ve never read it before. If there are things you aren’t satisfied with as a reader, go in and fix them as a writer: that’s revision.” ― Neil Gaiman

I recently hit the point in revising HOW TO HEAL A LIFE where I’m even more connected to the story and the characters. I’m adding those extra little touches that allow for deeper meaning and emotional impact. I’m learning far more than I knew I was missing about who these characters are. At the same time, I’ve been strengthening their interactions, tweaking the overall story arc, and filling in any plot holes.

It feels really good to be at this point. I wanted to wrap this book up MONTHS ago, but I’m so very glad I stuck it out and kept on plugging away at the revision phase instead of calling it “quits” too early. I would’ve been seriously disappointed in myself. Especially when it came to this book. Seth’s journey is a difficult one, but I always hoped that would make the book all the more emotional and powerful for the reader. I wanted to give his story the attention it deserved. 

Now it’s coming together to be what I’d always envisioned for his story, and I couldn’t be happier.

I have a bit more to go with the revisions, but for me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of the writing process. I can’t wait to do my next read-through and see the full effect.

Love this phase of writing!

The Haven Book 2 Manuscript

Pictured above is the binder containing the rough draft of Seth and Vargas’s story, HOW TO HEAL A LIFE (The Haven Book 2). I’m currently reading through it, revising, and adding more emotional depth and substance to the manuscript, and it’s going really well. I’m surprisingly pleased with the opening of the story, and that’s usually where I do most of my reworking. Knowing I’ve got a good handle on the beginning has me even more excited about this one.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress! Watch my newsletter and works-in-progress page on my website for more updates on this and my other projects.

 

Lessons Learned Revising Walter and Kevin’s Story

(c) istockphoto.com, marekuliasz 2012

I learn something new with each story I write. Both about me and the craft of writing fiction. As I’ve shared before, my current novel has been through a rocky schedule in terms of the actual writing, but it has had some of the biggest lessons for me when it comes to the “how” of writing.

Here’s what I’ve learned or had reinforced into my writer’s brain this past week:

  • It’s amazing how many bits of dialogue or even entire scenes I thought were important that never make it in the final manuscript. They are the moments that seemed to be at the core of the story and its meaning when I was writing the outline, yet once I’m into the story on a deeper level, those “darlings” just seem to lose their punch. But they were important for the journey. They helped me get to where I wanted the story to go. Writing is a process.
  • I can’t be afraid of moving a scene to a completely new setting. Sometimes I’m telling the right interactions and dialogue in the wrong place. The scene can take on a new intensity in the “right” location. Setting can influence the entire tone of a story. If two characters fall in love while moving from public place to public place, that story will have a very different feel than a story about two characters falling in love while staying at one of their homes, just the two of them for days on end.
  • When I’m stuck on a character’s emotional reactions, I should always go back to the basics. What are the character’s goals, wants, needs? And how are those driving his actions and his responses? I can’t be afraid to make the story primal. Humans are complex creatures, but we are also driven by simple, personal motivations.
  • I have to be “feeling” a scene to revise it. Sure, the writing hasn’t been polished yet, some of the sensory details are missing, and I have yet to write parts of the emotional responses and dialogue, but if I’m not interested in the core of what is going on in the scene, who the hell else will be? I give the scene two chances to pull me in. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first read through or maybe my mind was on something else. If I’m still not feeling it on the second read through, it’s back to the drawing board. Every scene, every interaction doesn’t just need a purpose, it doesn’t just need to move the story forward, it needs to grab the reader and hold on. The least it needs to do is get me excited to revise it.

And yet again, I think I’ve proven how crazy my writing process is, but I’m more than okay with that. It works for me.

Another thing I’ve learned in the past couple of years is to appreciate every moment I’m writing and to embrace the story I’m working on. Each of my novels has been quite different from the others. Over thinking the process and the act of writing, or doing any sort of comparison between works, is counterproductive. Enjoying the journey of storytelling and the characters I’m creating is a big part of what makes writing such a joy.

I try to start every writing session with that in mind.

It’s all about the story.


Sometimes Minor Edits Lead You On

I’m on my third pass working on Walter and Kevin’s story, and I had a series of great writing sessions this week. Today I worked on a chapter and a half that needed a few changes, including adding some dialogue and reactions. I ended up rewriting almost all of it. I was in some sort of zone where the dialogue and character interactions just flowed and worked better within the overall story arc. The more I rewrote, the more I knew what I had previously written wasn’t working. When I was done, it felt good to know it was the right call to rewrite those scenes.

Even though decisions like these affect the overall amount of time it takes to complete a project, this type of revising just seems to work for me. The more time I spend with the characters and their story, the clearer the overall picture becomes. Sometimes I can’t see the forest with all those damn trees in the way.

It took about five hours to get that chapter and a half rewritten. I sat in my comfy chair in my office while I wrote. These two little guys came in to keep me company.

(c) Sloan Parker 2012

(c) Sloan Parker 2012

Hope you all have a great weekend. I’m hoping to get in another 5 hours or more of writing on Sunday.