Monday, January 21, 2013

Clean up, Clean up...Edits, Edits EVERYWHERE!

My son just a couple years younger...but still a pouter!
“I can't clean up all of this by myself!”

Pout.

“It's too hard.”

STOMP!

And my six year old throws himself to the ground. I pick him up gently, with a smile on my face, and calmly say (through gritted teeth), “just one piece at a time.” And I sing the clean up song while he rolls his eyes and attempts to pick up a lego like it matches his body weight.

Although I am talking about a kindergartner (yes, he STILL hasn't grown out of this!) unfortunately, I can relate—as a writer (and a mom with mounds of laundry, piles of dishes, and legos in every nook and cranny).

On Flickr by BenSpark

I am in the middle of rewrites and came up with a fabulous twist that will give my characters motivation, my scenes raison d'etre, and my overall plot, cohesiveness. But when I think about actually putting my fingers to the keyboard and opening up the manuscript file to begin my reconstruction, I clam up!

Ugh! How can I even manage to do this with two hundred plus pages already filled with words, and colored with characters already active in my story? It's daunting to say the least.

But...just like I told my son, “one piece at a time”...if I focus on one scene at a time--how I am going to redefine the motivation, reconstruct the scene so it pushes the story toward the new twist, and focus on maintaining and deepening the characters WITHIN that scene--it becomes less overwhelming.

It is less of scooping up several bricks at once and losing some in the process,
but more of placing the tiny pieces in the bin one at a time while anticipating the potential of a whole new creation later on.

On Flickr by Oskay
The great thing about legos, is you can construct and reconstruct. You can set aside old creations for later use, or recreate to build something completely new.

My son is mighty proud when his mess is finally clean. And the next day, when he pulls out the lego bin and builds something from the pieces of an old aircraft or township, he holds his perfected creation up with pride and says, “Look what I made!”

One at a time. Clean up those manuscripts one edit at a time. Don't look at the giant mess on the floor, but look at the building blocks you have created and continue to edit with patience and focus.

Soon...you might just have a tidy draft of great potential!
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Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across historical cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

8 comments:

Jessica R. Patch said...

I'm in the editing process and your advice is great! I try to look at the big picture stuff first and ignore than all my characters shrug and give half-smiles. lol I'll have to come back to that later! :)

Melissa Tagg said...

Awesome stuff, Angie. I love rewrites and get a little more freaked out by the blank page. But even with my love for revisions, it can be daunting to go in and start messing around with what's there. Awesome tips.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Revisions are sooo hard for me! It really freaks me out...give me a blank page any day!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Angie,

This is so timely since I'm hip-deep in revisions! They really do freak me out, too! I get almost paralyzed until I finally plunge in.

One scene at a time is a great way to de-stress about it!

Cheers,
Sue

Julia M. Reffner said...

Great example with the leogs. Really makes this concrete and is something I will remember when I feel discouraged.

Jeanne T said...

Loved this post, and I can sooo relate to the pouty face! I have one who still does this (and he's older than yours). I am slowly learning to give myself permission to make as many passes as I need to to complete revisions and edits. I began revising last summer, but it's been a busy season, and I'm only half way through the book. Sigh.

It's hard to stay with it sometimes. Over the weekend I was working on a scene that just wasn't working, and God helped me realize that I hadn't done the research to be able to write the scene well in my fast draft. Duh. So, I spent some time on You Tube and figured out how to rough in electrical for outlets in a room and I was in business. I am so excited to finish rewriting that scene, and it will be so much better. One bite at a time is the best way to go. :) Or, in writing, one scene at a time. :)

Thanks, Angie.

Joanne Sher said...

LOVE this advice - so incredibly helpful to NOT see it as one gynormous project. THANK YOU!

Angie said...

Hi Ladies! Thanks for commenting yesterday. Was having some technical difficulties! Happy editing!
Angie