writing group

Let’s Examine “Moving Ahead” Versus “Revising” a First Manuscript

After I turned in Helain the White’s first section to my regular writing group, I laughed at their response. What did they say? “This is SO well written … but I have no idea what’s going on.” Of course I took no offense. This actually seemed to echo what I was feeling, which was that this particular scene was a beast to write. This happened before with The Ormonde’s section, and there too I had to significantly rewrite the scene.

When you’re working on a first manuscript, sometimes it’s difficult to keep up the forward momentum — especially when you run into problems. However, I’m learning that when I myself have problems, that most likely means it isn’t right.

Kerry gave such great feedback. She said, “How did he find Jered?” And I said, “He learned from interrogating someone that he visits this tomb.” Then she said, “That’s interesting. Why not show him DOING THAT?” Ummmm … right. Helain is one of those characters who benefits from actions. I constantly have to stop myself from explaining why he’s doing the things he’s doing. I want the reader to draw their own conclusions. As my favorite creative writing instructor in Dublin said, the writer’s job is to say “2+2” and the reader’s is to say “=4.”

So I went back and reimagined this scene, and I think this works so much better. However, this begs the question: “Should I stop to revise, or should I keep going?”

Sometimes I think new writers get bogged down in perfecting a piece of the whole. Sometimes you need to press onward and worry about the hardcore revisions later. Do I still consider my revised scene a draft? Absolutely. However, the plot particulars are so vastly different that I would have gone off on the wrong tangent had I not reimagined the scene. That’s when I think it does work to stop and rework something.

I’ve still got my writing group’s previous weeks’ edits sitting in my inbox and in my computer bag. I haven’t applied them yet, even though that’s like an itch I want to scratch. Instead, I want to focus on getting out pages. There are a lot of future Book 2 scenes I am SO looking forward to writing, so here’s hoping I can keep moving forward!

PS The draft is now at 54 pages!

S.

Advertisements

In which I share tips for working on a first draft …

Although I haven’t posted on this blog lately (little events like getting married and hosting ALL of the holidays got in the way), I am happy to say that I’m back to working on Adamant, Book 2: Scourge of Stalfos. I have two solid chapters at around 45 pages, and I’m hoping to contribute to that page count over the weekend.

So, as far as writing goes, I know what I want to happen but not the particulars. Do you ever feel that way? It’s not that I’m blank on ideas. I’m simply not sure the particulars. So here are the tactics that have helped so far:

  • Scheduling write-ins. Something about getting out of the house and being other writers helps me to feel enthusiastic. I don’t want to “talk the talk” but not “walk the walk.” I can’t very well explain my writing intentions and then not follow through!
  • Contribute to the weekly writing group. I’m a part of a Triangle Writing Group, which meets every Tuesday night. We contribute our pages by Sunday night, and so I make that my pseudo-deadline for a draft. Sometimes it’s hard, when I have weekend plans going on. But I know it does kick me into gear to work on Saturdays. That way I can review things on Sunday.
  • Check out pages from my favorite novels. I typically read actual paper copies of books, but I use Kindle as my stash of favorite inspirational novels. Sometimes if I glance over similar scenes, that will inspire me. I think there’s nothing wrong with “ganking” a line from a favorite story and let my scene flow from there.

Let’s hope this equation helps me again last weekend. I wrote a now-favorite section, and now I need to keep up this momentum — especially as I’m hoping to work on a character my writing group loves the most! I have a lot to live up to. The pressure, the PRESSURE!

Happy writing everyone!

S.