Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Letting it rest

Barbara here. For the last two weeks I have been on a family holiday at my cottage and have not done a lick of work on my WIP. But I have found the perfect excuse; I am letting it rest.

Two weeks ago, I proudly wrote THE END on the last page of the first draft of my new Inspector Green novel, titled THE DEVIL TO PAY, and printed all 352 pages off in order to start the first rewrites. This first rewrite is "big picture" stuff. Since I invent the story as I go along, the plot takes many unexpected turns, and the characters change, grow, or disappear, leaving loose ends, plot holes, ghosts, and non-sequiturs - in short, a ragged mess. By the end of the first draft, it's a story but a very rough one. While I'm writing the first draft, I keep a separate file of notes about things to change, add, delete, or enhance, and I use this to help me focus my edits. I also spend time simply daydreaming about the story to tease out the plot tangles, develop crucial subplots, and deepen characters and relationships. This often random mental meandering frees my imagination to take wild flights that hopefully will enrich the story.

One time-honoured way to free the imagination is to get some distance from the story so that you can see it through somewhat "fresh eyes". By the time I get to THE END of the first draft, I've lived with the story and its characters for over half a year. They are very familiar to me, which makes it difficult to think about them in new ways or to see the flaws and contradictions right in front of me. Working with a deadline, it's difficult to get enough time away from the manuscript to really see it through fresh eyes, but even a few weeks away from it and trying not to even think about it can help. Hence my holiday in the cottage sun. 

I'm letting it rest. And as this photo shows, the cottage is the perfect place to do that. At least that's my story.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

A very wise way to approach this. I do the same thing, but I call it "gaining some distance."

And you're right, you have the perfect place to relax and let your novel rest.

Can't wait to read it!