Monday, January 13, 2014

Revision and reseeing

I'm about 8,000 words into a rewrite of my latest novel. Funny, I usually hate revision. Revision feels like recrafting and recreating something, but it always feels like a nightmare. My vision starts out as something true and good, but after an intense revision, my sight always seems blurred and it's hard to refocus on what I'm really trying to accomplish. With each completed revision, I look back and feel like I'm further from the dream I had intended. I look at the mess and wonder what happened. I set out to create a wonderful, philosophical puzzle, and it becomes a lumbering megalodon in some cheesy C-movie hardly worthy of any careful special effects.

And, too many times, I have thought, “Well, I’m done with this version. Might as well start the twenty-sixth version.” And on it goes. No real sense of accomplishment and no real sense of going anywhere.

Now, in my new novel, I'm trying an old method of revision. Who knows where I heard about this, but I used to do this years ago. Usually, I print off whatever draft I'm working on and comb through it, adding in commas, scratching out words, and putting arrows and numbers to indicate the changing order and added paragraphs.

This time, I have a printed draft next to me as I type, but mostly I rewrite the entire section, copying pieces and sentences to help me get going and stay on track. I'm not sure how this keeps me focused on what I'm trying to do, but it does.

The characters seem fresh and new. I smile when the heroine, Clary, figures something out and sees her long-lost “elusive and illusive Jonathan” for the first time in five years. Clary’s sister and mother still make me laugh and cringe a little. I have remembered why I love these characters.

And that is a good thing. It’s easy to lose sight of that in revision.

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