May 8th, 2007

As Promised, an Earnest Writerly Blog

It’s a light week (at least, it was a light week—but somehow an interview here and an appointment there have sneakéd in. As they tend to do), so I plan to focus on revising the finalfinalREALLYfinal draft of my MG fantasy.


I started Sunday, writing an outline based on the way the draft turned out. (What do you mean, that sounds backwards??) I added in some scenes that have yet to be written, and discovered that I’m not wholly satisfied with the conclusion, which is quite a change from previous drafts. The conclusion has changed radically since its first appearance four or so years ago—but I’ve liked each one just fine. This one, not so much. However, I choose to believe that bodes well for the story itself, since previous drafts (with their glorious conclusions) have been less than word perfect. So to speak.


Then yesterday I really dug in. I dove into the prologue, logic-izing things that have been kinda hazy from the very beginning, and chipping away at unnecessary phrases hither and yon.


Tomorrow, chapter 1.


The first three chapters don’t require too much in-depth work—mostly rephrasing, refining, perfecting. After that, though, it’s nothing but hard labor, as virtually everything is brand new and thus very, very rough.


I enjoy revising, though. (I enjoy the writing itself, too—though definitely with varying degrees of enthusiasm!) I think that’s because it allows me to go back to that cozy space where everything seems possible; the story is still doughy and malleable, and the possibly of perfection (or at least near-greatness) is still there. I always feel like I can fix anything in revision. (Why then, one might ask, have I not fixed all that was wrong with the plotting of this tale in previous revisions? Who then, I might ask, requested one to ask such a silly question?)


It’s funny: I know there are problems in the story. Sometimes I find problems after I thought I fixed them all. Last draft, my trusty reader brought up a couple of very large problems that had somehow escaped my notice over the last nearly two years. (And his too, I suppose.)


This week I’ve been reading the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. (I know, I’m a little late to the party. But it’s rude to show up early, or so they say.) I’ll be starting the third installment tonight, and have no idea how the complications will multiply and then the threads all come together, but I have confidence that Pullman will multiply and then tie up neatly. (Confidence that my favorite characters will survive, I don’t have. But that’s another blog entirely.)


I wonder about his method. How long did it take him to concoct this fictional universe? I feel as though a science article might have gotten him thinking; that’s the kernel of the story, and Lyra and the daemons and the subtle knife are all ingredients that he threw into the pot. Lyra and her daemon gave me my first taste of the world, but the story is so, so much bigger than that one character. How complex was his outline? How many re-writes did he do?


Does it get any easier? Well—probably not. But do you get better at it anyway? Lord, I hope so.


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