Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Novel Writing & the Revision Monster

Hello Familiar Friends,
Revising a novel is a complex beast.    I am currently in the process of revising a new novel which is more intense than just editing for grammar boo boos.  I have changed some key elements in my story, and though it better and stronger, it also meant going back to rewriting some earlier chapters.  It is exciting and also tedious.-much like the life of a writer.  It also changes where the novel was heading.
I have been through this before.  When I was submitting my first published novel, Gate of Souls, I went through the same thing.  The book was good before, but the major changes I made, which there were many, for adjustments and relationships of characters, structure of the my story, deleting certain characters which were dead weight, adding new, shifting how I did things, etc.,-it was insane.  But it made my novel better and the story was stronger.  I went into power mode and revised a 100,000 word novel in less than 90 days.  Did it hurt? Yes.  Did it make me dizzy?  Yes.  Was it worth it-YES!
When going through this process, whether it is taking a fully completing novel (like Gate of Souls) or one that is only half-finished, is a challenge and a pain in the ass.    Often excessive amounts of coffee and chocolate chip cookies are involved .  But let's face it-as writers this is expected as part of the creative process.  Our initial gem of an idea has a beginning we gleefully put to pen, but often it must go through a lot of cutting and polishing before it becomes a flawless diamond.    Change happens.  If you become stuck or blocked, there is a reason and it is not the "writer's block" so many of us use as an excuse.  It means there is a problem with the novel that needs fixing.  Once you accept this cruel but necessary fact, you go in and figure out the problem.  Sometimes it is a character dragging you down that needs to be sent to the dead character graveyard.  Sometimes you must add a character.  I did that to my current and it changed how the book flowed and centered its focus.  It gave my main character a foundation for being where she needed to be.  It also changed her relationship with another character, but that is okay-because what is happening is better and more exciting.  It also gave some challenge to my main character.  It not only pushed me passed my comfort zone, but it pushed my character passed her comfort zone too.  My gem got some polish. 
So never fear the changes.    It may hurt and make you sweat, like a P90X workout, but you and your story will be stronger for it.  You will have written a better novel.
More later.
Verna McKinnon 


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