Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rewrites and Revisions

A few days ago, I was able to write one new chapter - one in the middle of my otherwise finished story.  I was very emotional while I wrote it and equally excited to have completed it.  I let my husband read it.  He gave me a very lukewarm opinion - something like "well, hmmm, maybe I need to read the chapters that come before it to put it in context."  Super huge bummer.

All my excitement about finally writing that one chapter deflated like a balloon with a tiny leak. 

However, this middle section isn't something I'm willing to give up on.  The middle part is where the main character has real-time interaction with the protagonist, her mother.  When I reread it last night, I could see places where I held back.  I didn't entirely go to that completely raw place that hurts when you touch it but makes for good writing. 

Today I'm going to try to poke that spot, to get to it, to say it, to show it. 

Over the last few days, while I've been moping a little about my husband's reaction, I have been fighting the urge to set aside writing and build databases and study for a database administration certification (which would also provide steady, reliable, and very good income). 

The attraction for me besides the potential to make a lot of money without having to work too terribly hard is that database design and development is creative but has constraints.  How you choose to design the database has a direct impact on performance and usability.  The certification exams as well as the administration end of databases (as opposed to development) are black and white - which is very attractive to me right now.  There's no gray area.  It is what it is in a very fact-driven sort of way.  My mind is craving an activity that is that solid.

It's much more difficult with writing (especially when you are stuck getting the middle part just right) because writing is so gray (actually, rainbow colored with sparkles) - so creative.  But the more I stare at the words in the middle of my novel and think about building databases, the more I see what I need to do to optimize the experience for the reader.  I need to take out the extraneous stuff so it flows faster.  I need to expose the raw conflict.  I need to apply all the techniques I applied to the first eight chapters. 

When I look at my novel like I would look at designing a database, it makes it easier for me.  I can detach my ego from it.  When I think logically about the changes I need to make to this section of my novel, it seems very do-able, like I can do it today. 

Specifically, I know I need to combine two chapters, change the dialogue just a little between the mother and daughter, and take out some lines that don't need to be there.  I need to write the next chapter and add in one particular mother-daughter conversation and a chapter about a bike ride.  Then it works. 

Wish me luck and forgive me for not visiting and commenting more.  I'm going to reward myself for getting this work done by giving myself a day to catch up.  Must do my work first....


  1. Good luck with your editing. I understand about the commenting too. It's hard to balance blogging and life at times.

  2. You can do it! And don't worry about your husband's reaction. Sometimes I respond with a 'good' or 'sure' when I suspect my wife was hoping for more.

  3. I've also stepped back from blogging. It wasn't a conscious choice; rather it's lower on my priority list at the moment.

    I had to merge a couple chapters and eliminate 1200 words or so. It was painful, but ultimately it served the narrative. I also just rewrote a scene taking out the other character; instead of thinking something, my narrator would say it out loud to the other person. It was bland and didn't flow. It's fun and freeing having control over the characters. Make them do what you need them to do :)

    Good luck with your editing!

  4. You can do it. :D Writing something right into the middle of an existing piece is harder than it sounds. I've done it, now you're doing it. But since you've worked so hard on the rest of it to make it shine all sparkly, you've suddenly plopped a glob of whatever you were eating onto your nice shiny surface. The goo won't come off, so how do you make it work with its existing environment? And your husband was probably right. Unless I had read the whole thing, I might have gone, "Hmm..." as well. I don't think he intended to burst your bubble.

  5. Good Luck! Did you ever try writing your ending and work your way toward the middle? It works for me.

  6. Angela - I used to get my writing done and then use whatever time I had to read blogs and comment. Then I reversed it and mostly stopped writing fiction - procrastination for sure.

    Alex - You're probably right about my husband's reaction. Maybe I read into it, but I'm glad I worked more on the chapter because of his reaction.

    August - That's kind of what I did in this chapter with the dialogue. It wasn't good.

    Caledonia - I think the middle part is the most difficult for sure, especially inserting stuff into it and retrofitting it to make it fit. Tricky.

    Keena - Thanks. :)

    Shelly - The ending has been done for a while - there was content missing in the middle. I wrote this one in a random order one chapter at a time. I will never do it this way again. Live and learn.

  7. Yes! I know what you mean! Its tough to recover from a bad or web unimpressed critique. It's so frustrating. But keep going! It will pay off!