Friday, August 20, 2010

The Book's Got a Waiting List - Rules!

Revisions are a fact of life when you write fiction. Just recently I was shaking things up in a romantic suspense out of Borneo and discovered that shaking or stirring wasn't going to cut it.  I moved into the heavy artillery.   Whole paragraphs were on the move, words were blasting into nothing and new words were replacing them and filling the holes in the landscape.  In some places this story became a minefield of plastique.  But at its true heart, it's still the same story I started out telling.  Only better.  Like a sapling grown into a tree with character - at least I hope so.

Is there an end to how much you can play with a story?  Is there some point where the rewrite doesn't make it tighter, clearer or more emotional?  Of course there is but a strong story takes a lot of reworking.  Just look at any of the masters, sentences were written and rewritten, and rewritten again.   The trick is to learn when to stop.

Maybe I would have saved a lot of trouble if I had just outlined and planned before I wrote but I don't think when the idea for this story first percolated that I was ready to, or more appropriately knew how plotting would fit into my pantser nature.  It wasn't like I began writing with no idea where the story was going but my plot was loose and gaping and recorded only in my head.  It took beginning my eighth novel before the idea of a more detailed plot had any appeal. 

I admit, more detailed plotting does keep things slightly more organized.  Does plotting keep problems and rewrites at bay?  More than likely, at least to a certain extent.  But there is always the threat of too many rules biting into artistic expression.  I don't like boundaries, rules, regulations - and that's the heart of a pantser.  But if it makes life a tad easier I can adjust to loose outlines and easy plots - for now.

So here's a simple rule I love - from the book I'm reading "Stein on Writing" - "Fiction evokes emotion."  How much easier can it get?

Now I have a slogan to remember. Rather like the days of music lessons - Every Good Boy Does Fine.  And they do - with just a rule or two for good measure.

And my good news for the day - a friend reported that not only is "Ring of Desire" finally in circulation at the local library but there's a waiting list!  Happy dance!

Any happy dancing in your day?


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