Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Remedial revision

Yesterday I read over the last critique I got on my YA novel. It is truly an excellent critique (2½ single-spaced pages), and cuts right to the heart of things. When I first got it, I felt like I finally had something to work with--somewhere clear to start in rewriting. But then I still didn't manage to do it.

Reading the critique again, I was amazed by all the positive comments in it. For instance: "interesting characters," "I'm rooting for her," "very touching," "readable and engaging," and the wonderful "well worth writing and well worth reading." It still needs an overhaul, especially in structure and depth, but after reading all that I realized I really do owe it to myself, and this manuscript, to stick with it and not give up now as I've halfway done.

But...taking the critique yesterday morning and sitting down with my manuscript, I still had no idea what to do. I feel like I need a remedial course in revising. I want someone experienced to sit with me and show me, practically and physically, where they would put the cursor in my document (or even in a new, blank document) and what they would do from there! I have substantially revised a bunch of short stories & feel I've got a decent idea how to do that, but novels seem like a different creature. Even if I break it into smaller chunks like another wrier suggested, taking out one peg seems to knock down the whole structure, & I don't know how to rebuild it without cramming some pegs back in where they don't belong.

I know I just need to experiment with it and be open to where that may lead, but I feel like I'm trying to perform a play when I don't know my lines, or where to go on the stage. Of course the entire novel is just improvised in the first place, so the answer is to improvise, but now I feel like there's something there to screw up! So, I wish I had a hands-on course in Revision 101, but in any case, I have renewed enthusiasm now for trying to salvage the thing.

No comments: