Monday, February 29, 2016

Top Five Reasons Why I Love Revising

But first Happy Leap Day! Any Leap Day rituals we should know about? No. Well, either.

February has been my least favourite month for so long now is probably a self-fulfilling prophecy. My mental health takes a hit. My energy level sinks. I let things slide. But here we are on the cusp of March and spring seems that much closer - tangible. So, as I sit here sipping my green smoothie I'm feeling pretty darn good.

I have to admit February wasn't all bad either. That angsty, winter's never gonna end feeling is crazy good writing mojo. Also, January saw the end of me writing the first draft of my third Aspen Lake book so February has been all about revising. Which I love. Love . LOVE.

My Revising Top Five

My first draft is always bare bones. Plotting, of course. Lots of dialogue and lots of physically positioning people here and there, were I think they should be, which allows me to better picture the scene. Revising is about taking that garbled mess, fleshing it out and turning it into something multi-layered someone might like to read someday. To me, the first revision pass, because there will be more, turns it into a story for me instead of a bunch of chopped up scenes.

This first draft was a hard one because my hero, Constable Mike Davenport, has been with me since the first book. I knew exactly what was up with him from the very beginning. Until I started writing the first draft of his story. Then it all fell apart because it just wasn't going to work. Letting go of the idea for the heart of him was HARD. I wasted considerable time trying desperately to make it work. Finally letting go of an idea that wasn't working and seeing a better alternative lifts the spirit. In the revising process I can run with the new developments, knowing it's the right path to take. He's still tortured, but in a different way.

Emotion. Expanding on the goals, motivations, and conflicts of the first draft. Or why the protagonists and antagonists are doing what they're doing. Which means scenes are added, or deleted, or rerouted. It means amping up the internal dialogue as the character thinks, emotes, decides a course of action, and implements it.

Developing Secondary Characters, which are some of my favourite characters. They make the story go round. They can be what your story needs: zangy, merciless, nuturing, or hurting. They are the tie that binds. Sometimes I get a little too attached to them and I find myself having to pull back and not let them take over too much of the story. Such was the case with Sophie's sister Marnie in Off The Grid. I could have given her character her own book. Not a romance, but a suspense surrounding her 'job' as a Finder.

Description and Detail. Like turning set amounts of flour, sugar, and butter into a confection of cakey goodness. Or meat, potatoes, and vegetables and turning into a savoury stew. Better yet, it makes for a whole meal when you serve them both. This is where the Back Forty Bar and sometimes grill turns into a place with dartboards and a pool table. Where the summertime heat lingers well past midnight and the locals and tourists play at getting along. Bowls of peanuts grace the tables and country music gives more than one patron the swaggers. And maybe four guys from the neighbouring town the locals love to hate pay a visit and pick a fight.

Again, happy leap day! Whatever your creative endeavors, whatever makes you tick, or saw you through February...I hope you tap into more of it in March? Come on, tell us your secrets?


B.E. Sanderson said...

I am totally with you about February. Traditionally, it's the month my mid-winter malaise lays me out like a prize fighter with a glass jaw. It wasn't quite so bad this year, but still, yuck. I'm totally not with you on revising. Gimme blank pages to play with and I'm happy. Ask me to edit or revise it, and it's like asking me to eat Brussels sprouts. Eww. I do it because it's good for the book, but don't ask me to enjoy the taste. ;o)

jblynn said...

My trick is that I live in Florida where there is no winter. Now...when I'm melting in July and August and don't leave the house for days for fear of succumbing to the heat and humidity, I'll need every trick I can muster...and AC. Lots and lots of AC.

Congrats on having a productive couple of months despite everything!

Karyn Good said...

B.E., yay for March! I'll channel your love of first drafts the next time I'm writing one!

JB, thank goodness for modern times and things like furnaces and air conditioners!