Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Hard Part of Writing Is NOT Writing

Some days ago, I wrote the words, "The End" for Strange Streets, my new dark romantic fantasy and now comes the really hard part.

I have to go over the story for revision and editing and preparing it for critique when it faces a group of writers next month at my monthly writers' group.

Editing and revision is, hands down, the most difficult part of writing regardless of what you may have completed: short story, novel, poem, a work of nonfiction or a movie script or essay.

Editing and revision is much like changing the diaper of a baby ogre. Before you get everything nice and cleaned up, you have to go through a lot of mess and sometimes you might even get chewed on for a little bit.

Let me show you a glimpse of what it took to revise Strange Streets so far.

I had to put the work aside for at least a week before even beginning revision and editing. I have been living with the characters and the plot for weeks and much of my understanding of their motivations and other aspects of their personalities and actions were well known to me. By distancing myself from the work, I gained the ability to see the story from the perspective of a reader. In Strange Streets, James and his cousin, Darby, go window shopping in Carlisle and end up on a street rather off the beaten path. I knew when writing the story that Darby was not all that she seemed and that she was oblivious to that fact herself. In rewriting, I had to stress Darby's background so in a second reading when the reader knows the reveal, they can see the hints that led up to it.

James is a timid introvert and socially awkward. In the story which covers three years of his life I had to show the reasonable and logical manner in which his personality changed through the events where the the timid part of his personality is replaced by one that is more courageous. That meant that some additional storyline had to be included to show that transition.

There is a third character in the story and on revision, I discovered the character would have more of an impact if I changed their gender. The male shopkeeper is now female which gives the story a vital energy it lacked when the character was a man.

When will the story be complete? I leave you with the advice given to me years ago and so long ago I cannot remember the source:

When your editing and revision is finally reduced to nothing more than pushing words around, you're done.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, revising is never easy but oh the satisfaction when it's actually DONE.