Sunday, May 02, 2010

A Writing Post


I’ve finally got back to editing my novel, Polite Lies. When I'm back in the UK in July (for good or as a holiday? Who knows? I certainly don't.) I have an Arvon course in July in Moniack Mhor (Writing Mainstream) and I’d like to have reworked the novel before I go.

But I’m a bit traumatized by this whole redrafting and editing process. As a flier by the seat of my pants I knew the end of my story but I had no idea how we’d get there. As a result, when I wrote it, I only felt equipped to write chronologically, A to Z. Now that I’m redrafting it seems obviously that there are lots of structural alternatives to this.

I’ve had several ideas for potential structure and frankly they’re all a bit (a lot) scary.

Am I any more equipped to reshape now?

There’s one idea that feels really radical. I can hear whispers in my head about rules being there to break but only if you know what they are. Do I? I’ve never seen this done before but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. Or it could mean it’s a jolly stupid idea.

I have another idea that would be writing half the book again. I quite like this idea but hell, scary. It involves something I thought I’d never do.

Eeek.

12 comments:

Queenie said...

So think about which of your ideas will give the best experience to your readers. How can you use the structure of your book to increase the emotional impact of its content? Which non-chronologically structured books have you read lately that have done this? The best one I've read recently is 'One Day' by David Nicholls, which I would recommend anyway but especially if you're thinking along these lines.

This is all fascinating stuff. Structure can be changed at any stage - it's always a headache working out the knock-on effects, but you can play, have a go, try it and see, even if it does involve writing half the book again. It's all good practice and will help you arrive at the best possible end result.

L-Plate Author said...

And that's why I love second drafting so much, because you can do exactly what you want to make it better. You will know which way to go, what to cut, what to keep. It all falls into place - I don't know how but it does. Writer intuition perhaps, but it's great fun.

Don't ever be afraid to just do it, if it feels right, go for it. You can always go back to the original if it doesn't pan out how you thought. But you probably won't need to...

Good luck JJ and stay safe chick x

Pat Posner said...

Great comments from Queenie and
L-Plate.
I'll just add: make sure you save a copy or two of the original!

Good luck
xxpat

JJ Beattie said...

Queenie, thanks for you enthusiasm. 'One Day' is one I want to read. Perhaps I'll go and look at my bookshelves for some ideas.

LPlate, I don't think I've quite developed enough of that writers' intuition... I am usually sure about what to cut but how to structure... not so much.

Pat, I am obsessed. You'd think it was prize winning literature the way I back up and obsess!

HelenMHunt said...

I think it's a real leap of faith to do something really radical in the rewrite. But if your heart tells you that's what you need to do, then you'll know it's right.

Helen said...

I'm a big believer in instinct. Go for it, give it a go. What's the worst that can happen. As long as you keep a copy of the original...(I never listen to rules. I don't even know what they are.)x

Suzanne Jones said...

I agree with everyone who said to go with what you feel is right.

Good luck.

XX

Debs said...

I think you should definately go with your gut instinct and as long as you save your first draft you can change it however you like.

Sounds exciting.

Fran said...

I agree with everyone else. Whatever you do, save everything, save everything, save everything. I have learned the hard way.

Structure is a killer. I've had a publisher say he loved everything about my novel except that the structure needed altering. What a shame he didn't have time or inclination to tell me what it was he didn't like!! That would have helped somewhat .. The word verification is STROP. Exactly!!!

Talli Roland said...

This is what I hate most about editing. That feeling of 'should I or shouldn't I?' And there's no-one there to advise you but you!

I agree - go with your instinct. And good luck!

Angie said...

Lots of good comments here, so I don't have much to add. Revising and restructuring can be scary, but it can also be liberating and exciting (yes, I'm a nerd :), and you'll know pretty quickly whether it's working or not. I say, take the plunge!
Good luck!

JJ Beattie said...

Helen, oh god, it does. I didn't feel able to do anything else until I'd discovered what the story was... now I need to tackle other things.

Helen, yeah, I think you're right, but ooh, I'm scared.

Suzanne, thank you.

Debs, oh god... Yes, I will...

Oh Fran, my god. What happened to the novel? Is it still in progress?

Talli, thankfully it does feel right. I've spent four months wondering what to do... and now I feel as though this is right.

Angie, okay. *Holding nose* in I go...