Tuesday, October 4, 2011

In Which I Take My Own Advice

If you have taken a writing class with me, than you have heard me extol the virtues of the red pencil as your best friend. One of the themes of Teaching the Story is that revision happens on many levels. Writers must be ready to delete their "word treasures," rewrite  sentences, add or remove paragraphs, and sometimes condense pages and pages into one paragraph. There are times when a writer finishes a piece, only to realize that what she has completed isn't exactly what she wanted to say and must begin again. In addition, one change often necessitates changes in the entire work. 

I created the "Writing-Revising Cycle" to reflect this dynamic. Feel free to download this file and use it as your own reminder or use it with your students. 

As it turns out, I find myself in the middle of this writing/revising process with my own work-in-progress, Half-Truths. Having completed the first draft at the end of last year, I have been editing it chapter by chapter. Aware that some writers totally rewrite their work in the second draft, I was thinking I could avoid that step.

I was wrong.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently attended the SCBWI-Carolinas conference. I was fortunate to have ten pages of my manuscript critiqued by Mary Cate Castellani. Her feedback was both encouraging and heart-stopping. She liked my writing and the voice of my two characters. But since the story's main characters are of different races, she thought it would be a more marketable work if I re-wrote it from the viewpoints of each character using alternating chapters.  

I had never thought of that. 

After feeling both shock and denial (I lost track of how many times I said to my writer friends, "I can't believe I have to start all over again!"), I began to re-plot my story.

Since I needed to "see" the entire story, I used white and striped note cards to show the alternating chapters. I laid it out on my dining room table. This is what I ended up with:

Having gone through the "Writing-Revising Cycle" many times, I'm now back at the beginning. But believe it or not, my dread has been replaced with excitement and energy. I agree with Ms. Castellani. I think my book will be far richer as a result.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Chapter 1 is waiting for me. 

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear from you. Where are you in the writing-revising cycle?


Anonymous said...

I'm still in the middle of a first draft. HOWEVER, I can already tell there will be quite a bit of changes that need to be made. I used to hate the revisions, but now, well, I kind of like the process! It's like creating all over again. Ya know?

And btw - I'm so excited about the changes you are going to make. I can def see the storyline going deeper and drawing me in even more1

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Where am I in the writing revising process? let's just say my dear Kelsey is now on her third plot line. Really hoping this one works for her and the story!

Pushing forward...It's hard but I am glad you are now excited!

Carol Baldwin said...

Eileen Heyes reminded me today that this is really all about Re-Vision. Totally! Thanks Joyce, for holding my hand as I step out in new territory. ANd for believing that I can do it. It is voices like your's and Donna's that help me keep going and going and going...
A third plot line for Kelsey! I suppose I shouldn't feel so befuddled !!!

Carol Baldwin said...

And yes, DOnna, It is like creating all over again. I just wasn't expecting that! I should have known better! Glad you're enjoying the process.

Edupreneur said...

Re-Vision inspires me, it's an awakening, a new way of seeing my characters. Revision bores me, it's like cleaning drawers.

Tom King said...

The trick is to make the redraft process clean and reach a clear stopping place. You can always redraft. The trap I fell into was never-ending redrafting. I kept jumping back and forth so 3 or 4 distinct redrafts became one long, miserable first draft. You can wind up running out of steam and never reaching an end to it that way.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for the commentS about revision vs. Re-Vision and getting a draft DONE. Both really good points!

Linda A. said...

Hi Carol,

I like the stripes for the 2nd POV character chapters. That's a helpful tip. Best of luck to you.

Linda A.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. I have learned that I am a visual person and need to have some sense of organization to help me stay on track!

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