Thursday, June 24, 2010

To Boldly Go Where No One Has Ever Gone Before

(This morning I tried to psych myself up for writing by telling myself that that's what I was doing.)

I've been thinking about some of the things that make revision tricky. A few days ago, I found myself unsure about how to attack the next plotty piece in my novel.... so, to work that out and get my momentum going again, I did what I always do, which is that I went back a few chapters to read and revise. This usually works for me. By the time I get to the end of what I've got, I know what comes next and have a few ideas about how to do it.

So, Bitterblue is very, um, LONG would be an accurate word, so whenever I'm revising, I'm looking for things to cut out. But one thing that always makes it tricky for me to cut things out is that in every scene, I'm always trying to accomplish several things at once. For example, the point of the scene might be for Characters A and B to discover a Surprising Plot Thing -- something startling and relevant to the larger plot. BUT, in the course of the action and conversation, I'm probably also showing the Development of the Relationship between Characters A and B. My novels tend to be character-driven, so character development is really important to me. And as Characters A and B move around doing whatever they're doing, I may also be trying, in the background, to show Important Stuff about the Castle, the architecture, or the landscape, or what not -- things that have symbolic significance, or even plot significance later, or make the world-building richer. AND I'm probably also trying to drop in Subtle Clues about Miscellaneous Mysteries that will have direct plot significance later. There might be other things going on, too, but for now, let's work with those four.

So, let's say I'm rereading/revising a scene, and realize that this scene where Characters A and B discover the Surprising Plot Thing is not necessary. Aha!, I think to myself. I do not need this particular Surprising Plot Thing in my plot! But: if I axe the entire scene, well, there goes my character development. There goes my setting/world building development. And there go all those necessary clues that I took such care to plant. I'm either going to need to decide to do without all these things (which is hard), or find a way to cram them in elsewhere (which is harder).

This is only one of the reasons I'm grateful to have a stellar editor. Help. Help. Hallo? (That's the sound of me in the heffalump pit that is my novel, calling for my editor.)

And that's all I'm going to say about process today, because another thing that's tricky is that you start to worry that all your chatter about the novel is a lot more interesting than the novel itself. Sigh....

Apropos of nothing, the latest xkcd, found here, is one of my favorites:

Have a peaceful Thursday (without air horns), everyone.