15 September 2007

Getting closer

Today, I've been doing some workshopping of student stories, and I noticed one who has been struggling to write from inside her character's head has finally brought the action that little bit closer by using thoughts. In the group novel we're doing, I'd been given instructions that I was to deliver some of the back story, which largely had to be done by thoughts. I did feel, anyway, that my character didn't spend nearly as much time ruminating as some of the others. I think I'm always a bit wary of overdoing it, because I've read that direct thoughts can annoy readers, and I know I am rather fond of writing direct thoughts; therefore, I hold back.

Trying something new can be quite liberating. It's not that I've never tried to deliver backstory before, but rather that working on a new project can make you appreciate things in a different light. For me there was a minor lightbulb moment (or perhaps the turning on of a low wattage light!) that I don't deliver that much backstory throughout my novel. It's something I could bear to do a little more of.

I am currently approaching the end of my thirteenth draft. At least I'm calling it my thirteenth, but there are some that are labelled something like "draft 12.5", which means it started as the thirteenth incarnation, but was abandoned for various reasons halfway through, so never became a complete draft. On the other hand, some drafts are really just editing passes. I have long ago determined that this will be my last draft (unless an editor takes it of course and wants me to redraft, which I am perfectly happy to do). This is the first draft I have been happy with, and that is an important milestone for me. I can't control whether it's ever published or not -- not beyond making it as good as it can be. The rest, then, is up to my agent, and even then I know it involves a modicum of luck.

I have determined though that I will do an editorial pass at the end of this draft. It was just to be a quick read over, but since my new discovery about my own writing will play in nicely with what the last editor who read it has said, I will pay attention to this as I go through. (For comparison, a quick read would take me a couple of days; an editing pass a couple of weeks; a full rewrite, considerably longer.) Of course my one problem is that I will again be adding words when I need to cut, cut, cut. Oh, for a publisher who loves a truly fat fantasty book!


ellen said...

Oh, ain't those lightbulb moments grand! For a second you feel so wonderfully inspired, and then you realise how much work you have ahead of you . . . Can't wait to read it, Tracey.
X0 Ellen

Tracey said...

Thanks, Ellen. Yes, I don't mind the work though. I love rewriting -- I find it so energising. I love seeing a richer, deeper story unfold with each rewrite. Hope you'll feel the same about yours as you get into it. The rewrite really is a seductive beast!