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Ripping Out Word Weeds April 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — christineglover @ 12:17 pm
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The hardest part about revising is wanting to add words and having to wait. Yes, wait. Sure, I’ve got the first global pass on the total WIP and I’ve managed to fix a couple of big picture problems more easily than I had anticipated which is a relief. I’ve even got some fabulous ideas about how to make this a bigger, lighter book with the depth it needs to go to a single title.

But I can’t act on the ideas because I’m not finished weeding out the words I don’t need. I am editing out the darker elements I had in the book and layering in lighter touches and/or marking the scene to do so at another time. I am also noting where I need to add scenes, and I am writing down all my brainstorming ideas into my trusty notebook. I have to be patient as I work through the scenes I’ve already written otherwise a good idea might not be useful OR I won’t know where to place my new scenes and my revised scenes.
It’s like gardening. First you have to pull the weeds, plow the dirt and add the fertilizer before you can plant the seeds for new growth. That’s what I am doing. Some writers give up at this point and move on to writing a new MS because the task is overwhelming. Then they might return to their WIP in revision and be able to work on it, but I can’t work that way. To me that would be like planting seeds for a new garden next to a weedy patch. And then the weeds in the old garden might overrun my new garden. 
What would be the point? I’d have another weedy garden to fix.
Oddly enough, I had hoped to play with my new YA idea this week, but by the time I finish working all day on my revision, I have nothing left to draw from my creative well. All my energy is going into the revision. I’m not fighting it. I believe that if I do have a spark for the other idea, then I’ll run with it. My brain will know when it is ready to work on something different. 
I’ve been down this revision path before. It’s murky at times. MS #3 took over a year to wrestle into shape. The book did get better with each revision, but the revising didn’t get easier. Even at the very end of #3’s revision, I went through it and picked out details that needed strengthening or finessing. Now I can play around with it to change the minor details and keep my mind focused on the 4th MS, but I don’t think I could work on a first draft of a new story without draining my creative energy. And I need my creativity to stay true to the task at hand.
I imagine published authors work on more than one book at a time, but I wonder if that is after they’ve really gutted a story and revised it. Line editing and tweaking is not revising. Revising is getting into the heart of the story and rearranging the way the story is pumped out.
I know I can’t revise this 4th MS forever. I need to get it to a point where I can say I’m as done as I can be and move on. I’ve given myself till the end of June. Maybe I’ll finish earlier. Maybe I won’t. I do know that I need a partial and a synopsis by June 1 for the MAGGIES, regardless of where the rest of the MS stands. Afterward, I need to know that the book I’m pitching has a solid plot. That the bones and muscles of this book are set and grounded. Then it’ll be easier to fine tune the story should an editor or agent request the full. 
What do you think? Or are you able to juggle two manuscripts when one is major revision? And if you do juggle two manuscripts, do you feel you’re giving both stories the same level of effort? Or do you feel you’re short changing one of the stories?
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12 Responses to “Ripping Out Word Weeds”

  1. M.V.Freeman Says:

    Heavens, I can barely juggle the one MS, you have made some incredible strides!You know it is like pulling weeds..I think the hardest weeds to pull are those scenes or ideas that we know we have to get rid of, but we like too much…You know like those pretty looking weeds in the garden? Keep going Christine!!! :-)You have far more in you than you realize. All this work is just fertilizer for you YA. M.V.

  2. MaryC Says:

    Hey Christine. I'm curious. I don't know if I missed this somewhere, but I see you decided to go for the lighter tone rather than the darker one. Are you considering saving that darker element for a different book or are you keeping that part of the story and adjusting its tone? Either way, good luck. I had planned to spend much of this week revising an older one but I've ended up working more on getting the structure of the new one right. I find that I can work on two but I prefer not to because I get so absorbed in whatever story I'm doing and don't want to lose the momentum if I switch over.

  3. Christine Says:

    MV: I am digging in and working hard on this MS. I just spoke with another writer friend and she is working on two books, a YA and a Women's fiction. But she's struggling. I just can't put any creative energy into a new project till I nail this down. I'm afraid I'll lose the ideas if I don't. I like the idea that all this work is fertilizer for the YA and, I hope, my next Contemporary Romance.

  4. KarenG Says:

    I've thought of this gardening analogy so many times. Nice to be reminded of it as springtime approaches and I have to a)garden and b) revise. I'll be thinking of you! And no, Ican't juggle two at once. I'm juggling so many things when I write, another ms. just doesn't work!

  5. Christine Says:

    Hi MaryC: I did decide to go for a lighter tone. I fought the idea only because my last MS was rejected for being too much like a romantic comedy. When I went to the author critique session in March, the author said that the scenes I had the most fun writing would be the answer to my dilemma of where to go.The funny scenes won hands down. But I plan to keep the darker elements in a cut scenes document for future review. And I am like you, I don't want to lose my momentum with this book. I've got two deadlines to meet for it: the MAGGIES and Nationals. I have to hammer out the plot and story based on the new tonality or I'm toast.

  6. Christine Says:

    KarenG: I hope that when you are gardening that wonderful seeds of inspiration will pop into your head and send you to the computer with renewed energy to write!I love spring. The newness always inspires me to work harder at improving my scribbling.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Good Morning Christine, I've come over here to get a b-slap. I'm still overwhelmed with the prospect of rewriting editing..It just helps to say ALOUD..and the hardest part I feel as if I don't have the stuff to be a writer since this is a major learning process…but I don't want to do it..I'm even thinking of cleaning…thats how desperate I am. Thanks for listening. Jacki (fellow giamer)

  8. Ann Says:

    I don't have this problem, mores the pity, since I don't have a completed MS. But I would imagine I could only work on one at any given time. Congratulations on a completed MS and a big bualadh bos (Irish for applause) to you on your revisions to date!

  9. You're talking to me, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I can work on the editing of book 1 on one day, and writing book 2 on another day, but not often both in the same day.I do like having something else to work on if I get stuck in one MS. Having that June deadline will help me buckle down with the revisions. I like your process. I should probably do some pruning of my own in prep.You're doing great!

  10. Christine Says:

    Hi "Anonymous" Jackie GIAMer–you are suffering from the same anxiety we all suffer from yet we persist to slog away. I am constantly asking myself why am I doing this? I have no idea how to fix it? What a "dumb" idea and the "next one" will be "so much better" cause I will have learned so much! Ha ha–I have said that with every book I have revised.Meh. Keep going and here's your b-slap and A HUG!

  11. Christine Says:

    Anne: you will have a finished manuscript soon. Then you will celebrate the finished manuscript. Then you will revise. Oh the sheer joy of it–again and again you will revise! Keep me posted so I can celebrate with you when you finish the MS! Woot!Then you can come here and whine whenever you like about the revision. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Christine Says:

    Hey Gwen: You're not the only writer I know who works on more than one book. I am in awe of any writer who can do it. I think my issue is momentum. I find that my momentum will be halted if I don't plug away at the task at hand. For other writers like you, and my CP in VA, I think working two novels or stories is the way you keep your momentum going. I can play around with websites and linear things when I am in writing mode, but I haven't figured out how to do both at the same time. Alternating days might work. But right now I have to focus on the deadlines–workshop and Maggies loom–and I am in the "I better fix this or else kind of head place."


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