Friday, July 17, 2009

Do you feel a draft?

Charles here.

Yesterday John wrote about the revision process and asked for our input. I guess every author has an opinion on this – write the whole thing, then revise; revise as you go; write a bit, revise a bit – but the revision process really begins long before we commit a single word to the page.

As I’ve reported here before, I’m working (put some air quotes around that for me, will you?) on my next YA novel and I’ve got at least 100 solid hours in so far – quality, focused time that has improved the story considerably – but as of yet I haven’t written a word. For me, the story has to feel right in my head before I can start writing it down. I’m not talking whole scenes or the plot all figured out, just a sense I know what I want and I know how to get it. I’ve made so many revisions to this soon-to-be-manuscript that it no longer resembles what I set out to write.

Eventually, I do write. And no matter how slow a writer you think you are, I am slower. John knocks out 5 pages in a day? Hell, I’m happy if I get 5 sentences I like. I do revise as I go and I’m brutal – I will not go on if I don’t think a line is right. And then I revise (not as much, though) when it’s all done. The constant revision – pre-writing/during writing/post writing – ensures that I say what I want to say, the way I want to say it. Every scene, every paragraph, every line, every word. Look, I can’t control the fact that I’m never gonna get rich at this (or that I may write books that never get published), but I can control what I write, and for me the painful, honest, brutal, continual revision process is the best way to do it.

I wish there were an easier way because this way is really frickin’ hard, but I don’t think there is.


On a lighter and far, far better note, Sunday’s guest blogger is social media expert and professional geekspeak interpreter, Deanna Varble. She’s got some really cool ideas for all you authors out there on how to tap into the hot trends in social media, so make a date to be here. And be sure to post comments – she gets into that whole two-way conversation thing.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think as long as you're working on a project every day (brainstorming counts, too) then you're on target.

Mystery Writing is Murder

John Corrigan said...

And it never gets easier, does it? Great stuff.

Charles benoit said...

They say there's no such thing as a bad idea while you're brainstorming.

What do they know.

Any/every author will tell you that we can come up with some pretty lousy ideas, often without meaning to.

PS - Elizabeth - I liked MWisM

Rick Blechta said...

The late, great Arthur Schiff (whom I'm sure you've heard of, Charles) was the doyen of modern direct response copywriters. Ginsu knives? Arthur came up with that silly name that sold thousands of them. "But wait, there's more!" Arthur again.

Years ago, he was hired by a company for a lot of money. The boss kept walking by Arthur's open door only to see him sitting in his office, puffing on his pipe and looking out the window. Finally, the boss couldn't take it any more.

"Arthur," he said, stepping into the office, "I'm paying you a lot of money, and all you're doing is sitting in here, looking out the window while you smoke your pipe!"

"Ed," Arthur answered without turning. "I'm thinking. This is what thinking looks like."

Ed Valenti never bothered Arthur again.

You brainstorm/revise away in your head as much as you want, Charles.