I am waist-deep in revising my finalfinalREALLYfinal draft of my YA (unless it’s MG) fantasy novel. And I’m handling things a little bit differently this time around. Literally. Like, with a pen.
Here’s how it works: I go through the printout of a chapter, make some changes, and then print out that version—double-spaced. (I am a FREAK about conserving paper, and double-space only on the rarest occasions.)
Then I take that printout, open my spiral-bound notebook, and hunker down to work. I am basically re-writing the entire chapter, by hand, but super-slowly (I’m a pretty quick typist), which gives me time to ponder. To set the pen down and stare out the window and consider how a particular argument (er—discussion) ought to go. To visualize the countryside, and remember that I have not picked up a particular narrative thread in a while, and this would be a good place to draw the reader’s attention to it again.
It’s working great. (Although I am not excited about inputting all the hand-written stuff. If I wasn’t on the path to carpal tunnel before…)
It was working great, anyway, until the latest chapter. I wasn’t that thrilled with it in draft one; it felt like I had thrown in some pointless backing-and-forthing just to fill time. Or pages. But the way the re-write is going—was going—I felt sure I’d be able to nail it down in much better shape.
And I did! My MC, who has been speaking much more coherently inside my brain now that I’m inking, rather than keyboarding, snapped to attention and said something so in character, I stopped and stared at the page.
But there’s a problem. All that perhaps unnecessary backing-and-forthing is now absolutely unnecessary—and that left me without a way to get the MC’s brother where I needed him to go. Plus I wasn’t sure how or why my MC was gong to go where she needed to go.
Yesterday was supposed to give me a Big Working Afternoon. But I was really feeling dreadful about the direction of the chapter. (This is supposed to be a Revision Round, after all—NOT ANOTHER RE-WRITE!)
So I thought I’d lie down for a spell and just let my mind wander across all the possibilities.
Within about eight minutes, I’d come up with the perfect reason for my MC to get on the road. And it’s waaaaaaaaaay better than what happened before, because she’ll have a companion, and that will give the romance (which is far better represented in my head than on the page, I think) a chance to really get going.
The idea came so abruptly, I almost heard “click” as everything fell in place.
But I still didn’t know how I was going to get her brother where I needed him to go, so I stayed on the sofa, snuggled under my scratchy Scottish wool blanket.
Two hours later, I awakened to the drone of lawn mowing. And I was still so, so not in the mood for working. Plus that dang brother was still in the wings, waiting for some direction from me. I mosied into the kitchen to set up some coffee, and the thought slowly tiptoed through my brain: maybe he doesn’t need a reason to go. Maybe he just goes.
I like it better when ideas come with audio (“click!”). But the quiet ones can be pretty satisfying, too.