Monday, November 14, 2011

Change

At the beginning of the school year, in one of my fun-filled faculty meetings, my principal threw out this quote: Change what needs changing. Not what’s easy.

Normally I only pay attention to my boss’s Yoda-isms, but this one sparked my heart. I knew he was referring to teaching, but I immediately thought of my writing, my current manuscript, and my imminent revision process.



Change what needs changing. Not what’s easy.

Just so you know, I’ve spent the past three weeks immersed in revisions of the beast Franken-novel my manuscript. Normally I relish revisions. Tightening narrative, tweaking dialogue, finding that one word that says five. I LOVE adding dimensions of richness to my characters and sprinkling in those oh-so-perfect similes, the ones that say three things about my character that normally would take three sentences.

But, for me, those changes are EASY.

And those aren’t the revisions I need to be working on RIGHT NOW.

Change what needs changing. Not what’s easy.

Here's what's been CHANGING for me...

I cut an entire POV. Yep. Forty percent of my story, scenes I crafted for hours—GONE, with one little click. My gut knew it needed to happen, I fought it forever, it was a necessary evil. But in the end I made the cut because it NEEDED TO HAPPEN.

And because of that cut, I have to change SO MUCH MORE. I’m forced to see things completely through one character’s eyes. I have to figure out how to get that crucial back story and information into the script when it would’ve been SO MUCH EASIER to have my other main character do it. I spent the past weekend rewriting and adding in scenes, scenes I know will probably still get hacked on the next round of revisions. I killed off a character, knowing three four six more may die before I finish the first round of revisions.

Change is HARD. It’s frustrating. But it’s also so amazingly exciting. And…AND it’s making my manuscript SO MUCH BETTER.

How about YOU? Had to make any tough decisions or changes lately? Where are you at with YOUR writing?

14 comments:

  1. That's awesome you were willing to change so much to make your manuscript harder. I've cost myself lots of time being stubborn.

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  2. Yep. I revised--heavily revised, rewrote several chapters--through chapter thirteen (you know, after having already rewritten 4-6 multiple times) and then decided that I was going about everything all wrong and that 8-13 needed to go and I needed to come at everything from a different angle. I'm also now not sure how the story will end anymore. The last scene is still the same--it has to take place in a very specific way...but at the same time I might bring in another character who originally wasn't there. And how I GET to that last scene...at this point I don't even know. The big plot points are still the same (the two biggest twists haven't changed) but everything else will probably just need to be redone. Mehhhh.

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  3. Last round of revisions, I had to change from 3rd-person POV to first. An MG first POV. It was so challenging--but the results were just what the story needed. Frustration is a necessary step on the way to a better MS!

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  4. Yeouch!!! That's a serious revision. Fortunately I've not ever had to go that deep, but I'd like to believe I'll be ready to make that sacrifice if and when the time comes. Good for you! :)

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  5. I know your pain, I cut half my novel earlier this month. All these beloved scenes...but they just weren't working.

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  6. What you think before you do it: "Ugh. Change. I don't wanna..."

    What you think after biting the bullet and doing what needs to be done: "YAY! CHANGE IS AWESOME."

    It's the same mental process over and over and over again!

    And you know I hear ya. Cutting the 45,000 words of my WIP and starting over? NOT EASY.

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  7. Alison, that is so awesome. It's hard advice to take --who likes the kind of revisions that feel like cutting off an arm? -- but I think those are the changes that can truly make your story great. (Um, at least that's what I tell myself!)

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  8. All the time! But you're right, it makes things so much better. :)

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  9. I feel this post!!

    I had the instinct to make a major change that would cause me to basically rewrite my entire MS that I already did 3 drafts on. I felt so overwhelmed by all the work that would require!

    But I got some rear-ripping critiques that helped me divorce from my attachment and start again on page 0 and I love it so much more.

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  10. I need to tattoo this on my fingers.

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  11. I'm so proud of you for cutting that second POV. I truly think that'll make your story so much more marketable! Now, can you share some of your guts with me? I just started a rewrite of a past manuscript and you're right: it's so fun to toy with the easy stuff. It's the big (!IMPORTANT!) stuff that's giving me fits!

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  12. Oh the cutting out of something that major HURTS. Glad that you realized it had to happen for the betterment of your MS though.

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  13. You are incredibly brave. I've switched POVs in a whole manuscript before but taking a POV out all together feels more complex. But it's better than shelving the whole thing, I guess.

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  14. YES! So tough to do sometimes, but if the story is important to you, you'll make the necessary changes. What a wise saying...

    Best of luck with all your changes!

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