Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Get in the water already...

post by Lynn

When I was 5 years old, my family took a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico. As soon as we reached the beach, my sisters and cousins dove into the surf. Not me. That was waaaay scary stuff.

My mother rubbed my neck and talked to me softly. Eventually she coaxed me to put my toes into the froth at the edge of the water. “Let’s go into the waves together,” she said.

No dice. I still wasn’t going in.

“Lynnie, we’re going to be here for a week,” Mom said. “You don’t want to stand there, watching all the fun for a whole week, do you?”

I squatted and pretended to be fascinated with a piece of dried seaweed.

Finally, Mom picked me up and carried me, screaming and kicking, into the waves. When I calmed down, she taught me how to ride the waves, up and over, letting the salty water hold me afloat.

I spent the rest of the vacation splashing and body surfing with the big kids. It was heaven, even with the blister-bubble sunburn I got.

Sometimes you just need somebody to drag you in, you know?

For me, right now, that something is revision. I need to quit poking at the edges of my drafts—replacing “ing” verbs and trolling for adverbs. It’s time to dive into the revision process and get really wet. I’m talking Macro-level Revision here—no froth.

There’s nobody around to pick me up and throw me in so I’m going to have to self-launch.

Fortunately, I have resources from eight years of reading and taking classes. I’ve collected sticky-notes and handouts in a folder titled “REVISION” and now I’m going to pull a few out:

• From Patricia Stoltey’s “Self-Editing One Step at a Time” class: Use a numerical ranking system to evaluate each chapter/section. Zero equals no tension/excitement; ten equals “edge of your seat” suspense. Using this system, I can see how the story arc is working, and change the pacing as needed. Delete low-numbered, repetitive parts. Thanks Pat!

• A couple of questions to address: Is the intention of each scene clear? Is the overall tone of the story consistent?

• Do the opening paragraphs of each section tilt the reader right into the story, or I am clearing my throat?

I know there’s a lot more, but that’s enough to get me started.

Okay everybody—I’m going in!

Help me out here, fellow writers: how do you approach macro-level editing?


Anonymous said...

Well right now, I'm avoiding filling in more details in a story after my dear friend Lynn suggested I expand it. Hmmmm...... For once in my life, I had an actual plot that I wanted to get down first! I'm usually way into characters and I struggle with the plot.

And great advice it was she gave me. I'm beginning to get in my head the things that would be good to add.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Ah, yes, that self-editing class. I use those handouts too, Lynn. And like you, I'm in that revision stage again. It's so hard to get going that I think I'll take my manuscript off to the library this weekend to get away from the refrigerator, the Internet, and the cat.

Lynn said...

Whatever it takes, Pat! I'm sure you'll get momentum on the project soon.

Anonymous said...

Editing isn't my problem; it's writing. Since the first of the year, I've been working on a memoir about my six years of caring for my totally blind husband, partially paralyzed as a result of two strokes who passed away last year. From time to time, I have to distance myself from it and work on other things: poems, stories, blog posts, submitting material for possible publication or to contests. When I'm ready, I jump back into the water.

Luana Krause said...

Great post! Turning my self-editor off long enough to get the first draft finished is my biggest challenge. Who said writing is easy? Don't just stick in my big toe -- jump off the diving board already.

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