You know you’ve been away from the blog for a while when you have to retype your Username and Password to write a new post.
The last time I wrote, my brother, his family, and my parents were staying with us in our house. I was hours away from pulling off a big surprise birthday party for my mother. The next day we all few to Philadelphia for the week.
Early this month, I turned 38 and celebrated my 14th wedding anniversary.
A few days after our return, my 3-year old headed back to preschool, then more family came to visit. Last week, the Big Girls started back to school.
I’m 55 pages shy of completing the first set of revisions to my novel. I have gone from thinking Secrets of the Sari Chest would become a smash hit, to wondering whether this was the most boring book I’ve ever read in my life, to thinking it’s actually decent. Only time will tell, I suppose.
The good news? My method of revising the novel backward (the last scene first, then backward scene by scene) is really getting me somewhere. Since what comes next chronologically is so fresh in my mind, I can figure out almost immediately what I need to cut in the scene before, how to increase suspense, how to further develop character in each segment. It’s teaching me how to write each scene well enough to stand alone. It’s forcing me to dramatize instead of illustrate (a point made by Holly Goddard Jones during her wonderful talk at the AWC Saturday).
For example, I have several scenes consisting of nothing but the character’s thoughts. Like, they’re sort of just sitting around, gazing at something, and pontificating about regrets or bad past relationships, or whatever. Oh my gosh, those scenes were so boring. I wrote this sort of Backstory because I was too lazy to do the harder work of plotting and character development. Revising backward has helped me to avoid useless Backstory.
So, there has been a lot of revising of the novel. Painful cutting. (And my novel is coming out on the short side for mainstream/women’s fiction– so it’s not like I have words to spare.) Just now I cut about 3.5 pages simply because I couldn’t figure out the point of the scene. It was very well written. It was funny. It was touching. It was interesting. Did it offer important facts for the plot? No. Did it give us insight into the character? Yes, but we get that same insight from other scenes in the book– this scene added nothing knew. Was it important Backstory? Initially, I thought it was. But now that I’ve worked my way through 3/4 of the novel, I see it’s not. Does it heighten suspense? Nope. What the pages do is describe a life-shift in one of the character’s far past. But that event is not actually relevant to the plot. I’ve got the pages saved in an earlier draft, but they’ll likely stay there.
As you can probably already tell, since about page 75, my revisions have more resembled rewrites. These last 55 pages might take me a month to get through. I’m basically going to have to rewrite them completely. From scratch.
Blogging will be very, very light, until it gets done. And the posts will be just as haphazard and grammatically incorrect as this very rushed one.