Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on Revision/Re-Vision

I completed two pass-throughs of The Novel with my 3x5 notecards. I didn't plan on making two passes - but that was what was required.

The first round I was looking for "scenes" and making notes in the margins about the characters and main events. I had a decent size stack of cards when I was done and a few notes. Nothing earth shattering nor a toppling tower. I looked at the cards and thought about what I could move around and went, "huh."

Not much. (Though I imagine sometimes writers think things have to be in the order they are even when they could move -- or at least new novelists get a little stuck in reordering.) I will defend myself and say that it's a mystery ghost story, so I think some of the plot does have to be in the order it is. I'm not looking to find a new Memento style twist nor seeing dead people approach, so some things need to happen in a certain order for it to make sense.

But I started thinking that there were parts that could be moved around. Back story. Character development or history, flashbacks. Maybe there were other hidden bits that I could move.

So I re-entered The Novel with the completed notecards and new notecards and a pen. This time I made more notes in the margins and wrote out new scenes within scene cards. It's still not a toppling tower but it nearly doubled in size.

And there are things that can move.

Then a couple weeks ago I took a drive to the coast. A part of The Novel happens in Manzanita - an Oregon coastal town I haven't spent as much time in as other parts. I had the afternoon of a writing day free so I decided to drive the 90 miles to the coast. I stopped on the way and bought an inexpensive digital camera (I was across town from home - on the coastal range side of town). That spontaneous trip turned out to be the right thing to do.

On the drive over to the coast I had some insights into a couple of characters. I drove the route I had one of the characters drive (which was not my usual highway to the coast), so I took a few pictures along the way and picked up some excellent names of parks and towns and sightseeing spots. And when I arrived in Manzanita I took some pictures and drove around and feel like I have a much better sense of the layout of that part of the story.

And now? What?

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the thought of revising or re-visioning The Novel in its entirety. Especially when I'm also doing things like preparing to interpret a play (this coming Friday night) or have dragon boat practice three times a week (third weekly practice added this month) or am planning 10 days off work for a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon (the end of June; this planning includes working extra to get money to cover taking time off work since I don't have benefits) and ... there's more but those are the biggies. Oh, except for being the team captain for the second year for the MissFit WiseWalkers Cascade Lakes Relay team - just a little bit of organizing to do for that.

But enough - I have The Novel to finish. To edit. I tried to think of it as one page at a time but that is a lot. It seems easier to think about one character at a time. One story angle at a time (there are three seemingly separate stories that converge). One scene at a time!

I will get there. The play will be done this Friday - so that will free up a chunk of time for novel editing. And I have jury duty on Wednesday, so that may also give me some time unless I get selected to be on a jury (which is unlikely, in my experience). My plan for jury duty is to alternate between Friday's Script and The Novel, when I'm hanging out in the jury room.

Highway 26 West Tunnel
photo by Dot.