Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Narrowing Gyre

Turning and turning....

Revisions continue well. Or at least, not face-punchingly terrible, which is pretty good. This is the third book I've revised and I have never scraped away quite so mercilessly. Sometimes I'll find a glittering little piece of prose and I'll take it out, hold it up to the light, and toss it aside or fit it in somewhere else.

There is a general sense of tightening. Not just tightening language, removing fatty words and making the prose more direct, but also a winding of tension, threads of plot spiraling closer and closer into a knot I can't quite see fully yet.

This has been the process so far. I had a list of, let's say, a dozen fairly significant changes I wanted to make. Things like character motivations, or deeper implications, or even arguments that needed to be expanded, or moved from one scene to another.

As I cogitated on these changes, they suggested others, and at this stage I followed every lead, indulged every conceit. Because I didn't want to discard any ideas until I was SURE they were no good.

So now, many bad ideas and a few good ideas later, I have a 16-page "notes" document filled with cryptic questions and answers, bulleted ideas, and the self-indulgent chatter of the overcaffeinated.

From those 16 pages there are maybe five new elements to weave into the story. At this stage those new additions are not huge: clarifying conversations, names, showing things that are important but perhaps not quite clear.

And the strange thing is that I feel like I'm excavating my own story. I don't know what it will look like or what I'll find when all the slobbery mud of the process gets cleaned off it. But I hope it's a little more appealing than what Saruman's minions dug out of the ground!

1 comment:

Babs said...

It sounds like your revisions will result in the difference between pretty darned good Kentucky Bourbon and 26 yr. single malt whiskey. Mind you, I've never had either but I've heard it's v-e-r-y smooooooth!