Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Revision rambles

Deep revision.
Anything can change.
This is the time to ask myself questions.
Make decisions.
Decisions about characters and plot, setting and voice, point of view and theme.

My goal of revision is to find the best way to tell the story.

Revision means being willing to delete characters or scenes which don't contribute to the story. It entails adding scenes and rearranging events; it leads to rewriting the beginning, the end and everything in the middle; it involves moving sentences, paragraphs and scenes; it requires the deepening of characters, tightening the plot, adding suspense; and it means discovering the best words and sentences to use.

In essence, revision is where the craft of writing lies.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Juggling multiple stories

During this semester I have written many stories in different genres.

The viewpoint characters (narrators) I've juggled during the past month have included a 3 year old girl in a picture book, a 10 year old boy in a MG short story, a 17 year old girl in a YA short story, and dual viewpoints with an 18 year old boy and a 16 year old girl in a YA novel. (Yes, I've been busy.)

At first it was a huge leap to jump back and forth between different characters and different fictional worlds. Plus, I was stepping aside into analytical writing for my critical essays. Writing such a variety is easier now after doing this for four months, though I still prefer to work on different stories on different days.

I find it is easier to make the jump when I'm revising.

It has been great practice, learning to jump from one character's mind to another's. This skill translates to when I'm writing a single book, because I believe the writer needs to be able to inhabit every character, not just the point of view character.

What I've learned from juggling multiple stories:
-Rereading part of the story helps me remember the voice of the character I'm writing. If I don't have the voice, I don't have the character or the story.
-Clearing my mind and entering that particular fictional world is essential.
-I need to enter that character's head, view his world from his point of view.
-I don't jump from one character to another without preparing to make the jump. Waiting a day is good. But if there isn't time, taking an hour doing something else (lunch, exercise, a walk) will make the writing go more smoothly.
-Actors learn to switch from portraying one character to another, often very quickly. Writers can also learn to do this with practice. Still, time spent with the character--both time in the story and weeks or months, allow me to better understand the character and do a better job of showing the character on the page.