Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sometimes it's all about ink on paper

The last two days I've been taking a spiral notebook to work instead of Bunny the laptop. Since I got Bunny, my supply of notebooks has vanished, so I had to take the one I've been using as a mouse pad. Over lunch, instead of hammering words out on White Rose or whatever other project I open first, I've been making some pre-revision notes for a book that I think I've revised 6,000 times and I'm still not happy with the second half.

Yes, I could type my notes. Sometimes I do. But for some reason, the simple act of writing longhand makes me think differently--slowly, for one thing, since I can't get too far ahead of my writing hand, and that gives me the chance to think more deeply about each aspect of plot and character.

Yesterday I tried to work through plot. Today I realized the problem isn't plot at all. The revelation from my notes: "The difficulty I'm having with this rewrite comes, I think, from being bored with what's going on. It's a retread. I need to figure out what still interests me with this world and focus on that." After all, when even the author's bored, you can be damn sure the reader will put the book down and wander off for a bowl of ice cream, and probably won't come back.

I got so excited about my note-taking and thinking that I forgot to finish my lunch. The really exciting part for me is this section: "K & S think differently. In this situation, K will do what he's done before.... But S isn't like that. He's a true social animal, much more so than K or G are--K because he relies on his family rather than outside friends, who aren't as important, and G because he's used to relying on and trusting only himself. But Steven [S, of course] can call in favors."

I didn't consciously realize that about any of those characters until I actually wrote it down. Now I know exactly what to do with the rewrite, and damn this is going to turn out to be a good book. Of course, it's a sequel--but I have firm hopes that some publisher somewhere will like the first book as much as I do, and then I'll be ready with a kick-ass sequel too. Besides, it's fun.


Cate Gardner said...

Good luck, good luck, good luck... Sometimes I love revising. Sometimes I hate revising.

K.C. Shaw said...

Thanks! I'm the same way, except that when I'm in a revising mood (as I've been lately), I feel guilty about not writing--but when I'm writing, I feel guilty about not revising. There's no satisfying my inner editor, it seems.