Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Floundering in a pile of...

I knew this would happen.

You might remember that I typically write scene by scene--I expel a first draft of crap, spend a copious amount of time revising and polishing it until the scene is in pretty good shape, then move on to the next one and start all over again. Scenes range in length from five to ten pages, and the longer ones are tougher because they take weeks sometimes to get just right.

You might also remember that I abandoned this scene by scene approach to push through to the end and finish the story. Which was thrilling while I was doing it, and very satisfying, but meant that I ended up with a gigantic pile of...okay I won't be crass this time...less-than stellar writing to revise.

When I typed my handwritten pile of you-know-what into the computer, it was 25 pages. Now, after editing it for the last couple of months [*gasp* Has it been that long?], it has grown to 37 pages--27 of which I've already edited and 10 more pages of dreck that still need to be revised and fine tuned. While I enjoy certain aspects of editing, I'm getting tired of only editing. One of the things I liked about the scene by scene approach is that I was able to flip-flop back and forth between editing and drafting. Lately I've missed the creative surprises that pop up regularly during the drafting phase.

Oh well. I'd better get used to editing. Once I finish these last scenes, I'll read through the whole manuscript to correct any inconsistencies and slash out everything unnecessary. (Did I mention it is over 500 pages?) Then I'll give it to a few wonderful, selfless people who've volunteered to be my beta readers, and I'll revise it again based on their comments. Once it's as perfect as I can make it, I'll start submitting it to literary agents, which if I'm lucky, will lead to many more edits and revisions as it makes its way through the publishing process.

So there's a lot of editing in my future. Which is kind of cool when you think about it! After all, I've been working to really hard to get to this exact point.

You know what? I'm going to stop complaining now, and get back to editing. It's really not that bad! ;o)


Cindy said...

Hi Renee,
It's like that, isn't it? Editing may be onerous, but at some point, you're done writing new material. That must be a strange feeling. I wouldn't know, I've been onthis for five years...(G)

Renée said...

Thanks! It is a strange feeling--but a welcome one. Part of me is tempted to start something new right now, but I know if I do the editing of my current manuscript will take that much longer.

Do you write scene by scene? BTW, five years doesn't sound that long to me! ;o)

Cindy said...

I started out as a chunk writer, but the chunks I wrote were mainly from the first half of the book, not all over the place. Then I put those together, then I got soooooo stuck I didn't write much for quite a while. It wasn't until I realized what the problem was and eliminated it that the characters started talking to me again. Now I'm cruising through from start to finish, rewriting what needs it as I go, and then I'll continue in a linear fashion. Unless that stops working! (G)

It's like that lady said (can't remember her name): "There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are."

Everybody, everybody has to find their own way, and millions have failed because they gave up. I'm a book learner, I can sit in a class and remember what I've been told. I can memorize things out of books. So this gritty, teeth-gnashing process is a new experience for me, and my instinct may always be to want to ask someone else how. But I feel better - stronger and smarter - for doing what needs to be done, even if it's my own messed up way. I feel more confident, whether I succeed or not. I'm doing it...look mom, no hands!

Cindy said...

And that doesn't answer your question, does it?

Yes, I work on scenes and try to get them right before I move on. Sometimes I have a few scenes on the go, but I don't just stream from start to finish.

Renée said...

Thanks, Cindy. I love hearing how other writers work. It's so interesting that there isn't one method--although I agree, it can be frustrating too!