Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Race to the Finish

By Martha Reed


When I started writing, I promised that I would be honest with myself. At first I thought I was writing to get through some personal issues and I was but that wore off. Then I explored my writing further and learned that I could create whole new wonderful worlds and I used my imagination to put characters in fantastic otherworldly situations. That was really fun but that wore off too.

Now I’m trying to develop a new set of characters and part of what I’m doing to them is psychological. I’m infusing them with emotions that they are feeling and not just describing the emotion they are feeling as the third person narrator. It’s tougher than it sounds because to do this requires more forethought (as the author) and more groundwork (as the writer) in order to make sense of things.

The other new tool I’m trying out is the question of ethical behavior. One of my character's is a cop and at first it was hard to keep thinking of his actions in terms of that parameter but now I’m having fun with it, pushing the limits to see how far I can go (as the author) and how far he can go (as the character).

Which brings me to my real subject today which is, as you can see from the previous paragraphs, I’m getting pretty good at avoiding: my editor caught me cheating and she called me on it. There’s a flag on the play.

For those who have been following my manuscript adventures you already know that I hired an independent editor to help me polish this mss. I love having the second opinion to help me through my editing and so far this editor and I are spot on in agreement about where the story is going. It was money well spent and it now gives credence (in my mind) to those rumors you hear about successful writers who have spouses or significant others who “read” their manuscript before they submit. Now I wonder how much of that reading is actually first-run editing. But I digress (again).

There I was, happily editing along and I ran smack into Chapter 14. Only now, as I’m editing, I realize that this chapter doesn’t make sense anymore because this material is so old it came from the original rough draft when I was still trying to understand who my characters were; it’s back story. I was using it as transition because the middle is always the toughest part and I needed to fill up the space with some words but now, as I look at it, it all needs to be cut. The problem is that cutting it will create a new hole, which I will need to fill up with more words and I don’t want to go back to writing, I want to stick with editing.

However, the whining is now over, thank you for listening and I will get back to work. The good news is that I know exactly what is needed to fill the gap because finishing this mss is starting to feel like finishing a jigsaw puzzle when you know the picture, you have the outer frame with all the flat edges and all you need to do is fit the last fifty pieces together. What fun! There’s nothing better!

9 comments:

Joyce Tremel said...

I love revising. First drafts have their fun moments, but writing the middle of the book is pure torture.

Right now I'm well into the last third of my WIP and this part is fun to write. I wrote about 5000 words over the weekend, which is a lot for me. It seems I really am on a "race to the finish!"

PatRemick said...

The end is near! Keep running Martha!

Jennie Bentley said...

I despise rewriting. I do it because I have to, but I hate it. If I could just churn out first drafts, and hand them off to an assistant to clean up, I'd be a happy girl.

Good luck, Martha! The end is indeed near!

Martha Reed said...

Thanks, everyone, for the encouragement. I'm happy to report that I did indeed sit down and start mapping out the new material. Silly me. I should know by now how to do it - pull out the chair, sit down, and get it done!

Laurie said...

Good luck, Martha. I feel your pain. I think that you described perfectly the many thought processes we go through while writing.We're in our heads so much that it's extremely difficult to not over think our writing. Again, best of luck with your manuscript.

Martha Reed said...

Hi, Laurie. That's a perceptive comment - I do tend to overthink situations. Hopefully, though, with this project the momentum I've built up will keep me moving forward.

Ramona said...

You're right, Martha, there is nothing better. Keep that spirit.

Laurie said...

Martha, Ha! I don't know what I read (apparently I don't over think my reading just my writing), but I wasn't actually all that perceptive. I thought that you mentioned over thinking your rewrite. I reread your post and see that you didn't. oops, sorry, not perceptive, just red-faced.

NancyM said...

I love re-writing. (The same way I loved rehearsals but not performances, maybe?) I use up a case of paper for every book I write. Many, many drafts. Each time, the story gets clearer, tighter, more readable, more exciting. Keep up the good work, Martha!