Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The three R's: Reading, Riting and Revision

Mes Amis

As THE GOOD SON goes through more redrafts (At least this one's worth pursuing!) I find myself approaching the work with a strange mixture of anticipation and dread.

Anticipation comes from the fact that I feel there is more to add here, that maybe what is being suggested might just give me the edge I need to make this particular book stand out. There's a lot of good suggestions here.

And dread because part of me wants to protect my vision. There's some stuff that's being questioned which I love. That makes it tough. Because its a hard line knowing when you're protecting something for the right reasons or whether its simply because your ego won't allow you to let it go.

Redrafts are the most painful part of the process for me. On a 6,000 word story, as Dave White* has pointed out, its bad enough. But on a novel length piece of work (75,000 for him, 70,ooo for me) it seems an incredibly daunting task. Add to that the fact that redrafting is just... dull. The white hot fire that consumes you in that first draft doesn't seem to burn so hot when you have to consider things like continuity, explanations in place of coolness and the fact that you keep repeating words.

But I'm doing it with a smile on my face. Because I know I'm not right about everything and because those comments I do agree with are probably really going to improve the work by a few thousand degrees. Emma and Jane are, after all, a hell of a lot smarter than this guy here.

And because as I've said before the key to good writing is to revise, revise, revise. And to listen to your editors (even when you don't entirely agree - debating is actually the part of this process I enjoy!). And considering I only started work on THE GOOD SON four or five months back (from concept to this draft) I think things are going well.

Watch this space, folks. I'll let you know how this one goes...

Au revoir


*Dave White, y'know, the guy who hates footnotes (Why is it so hard to resist?)


Dave White said...

The Good Son? Are you writing the novelization of the Mulchaly Culkin Elijah Wood vehicle? Exciting times.

As for revision, it's a pain on a novel isn't it? I actually like doing it on a short story, but I know the* work better. I'm closer to it. There aren't sections that I wrote 8 months ago that I can hardly remember to revise... there are only like 3 things I wrote like two days ago to revise.

Novels scare me.

*You suck. Footnotes suck.

Russel said...

I'm sorry, Dave. I just can't seem to resist it with the footnotes. Its like a compulsion... (Must resist... urge...to...insert...footnotes...)

Ahhh, if only I was good enough to write anything involving MacAuely Culkin... (Damn you; now I have to think about changing the title as there are unholy connotations in my head...)

Honestly, I'm battering my head on walls with this revision malarkey. It just seems soooo big... But at least I know I am not alone in my fear.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Revisions are tough. Very tough. Sometimes you do have to be prepared to fight on something. Sometimes, you have to let something go. And it can be hard to know the difference.

I think for me, knowing the core of my vision is actually the way I figure out what goes in which camp. If its essential to the story and the character, then I'll fight for it. And if its a bit of gratuitous writing that I just really liked, well, I have to suck it up.

Keep the faith! At least you've got good counsel!

Stuart MacBride said...

Only 70,000 words? You big girl's blouse.

Revising anything is a pain in the arse, but it does make all the difference between something that sells, and something that doesn't.

Plus you have Emma and Jemma to play with. And that has to be fun ;}#

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I revise as I go along, so revisions are never a real problem for me. My editor's requested revisions were actually very few and exactly on point.

But I understand that feeling of dread. I felt it approaching the START of book two more than I've ever felt it before.