The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Journal of a Wannabe Novelist

by Antonios Maltezos

Entry 4

Feels like it was just yesterday I was saying I had a Saturday and Sunday coming up, the first little test of my determination since I don’t write on week-ends. Well, that week-end came and went and I’m still here, fired up because I’m returning to this journal having strengthened my novel, having added maybe 2000 words to my total… in the right places, I might add. I’m absolutely delighted with myself. Can I say that? I’m delighted, still on shaky ground, but very much on a roll.

In case anyone might be thinking I’m getting ahead of myself, here, I’m not. What I am doing is giving myself a good pat on the back for having been successful this one week, my first, perhaps my most difficult because I had to prove I had the guts to “get back into it” once and for all. And if I say I’m on a roll it’s because the story has come alive for me. I’m actually enjoying the read. I want to know what happens next. It’s a kind of guarantee I’ll be able to pick it up again this Monday.

The writing everyday thing seems to work for me, though I couldn’t care less how many words I actually get down on paper on any given day. I’m not driven by word count, and I can never understand why so many people seem to think it’s the only measure of a job well done when it comes to novel writing. It’s probably unfair of me to say this. It’s just that I hear these numbers being bounced around, and I have to ask, how much of it is pure blather? Using up one day’s available writing time figuring out how one sentence may work better is a good enough reason to have a celebration, in my opinion. Besides, 19 words today probably will mean six hundred, or a thousand, tomorrow. Having said this, I have a list of my word counts with the dates right on my cover page. Go figure.

I seem to have developed a pattern in my revisions. I look through the next section I want to work on, decide where it begins and where it ends, and then I copy it to a new document. I don’t always do this. This seems to work best for sections I know need substantial fattening up. I’ll give it a title before digging in. An added bonus to doing this is that when the redeveloped section gets reinserted, what’s needed or lacking before and immediately after becomes easily evident. I’m also afraid to look too far ahead, for some reason.

How do you guys revise? What are your methods? Does it help discussing the novel with people in the know, spouses? I find it helps. Personally, I’m thinking it’s a bit early for me to be handing out sections to be read. It’s the whole confidence thing. I might give up some chapters when I start finding little that needs changing on my read throughs. I’ve actually got a character still in there I know I’ll have to delete sometime soon. No rush, though. Is that weird? He isn’t pivotal. I’ll just have to find another way to share the info his appearance provides. I’m not stressing over it. Besides, it was just this week I decided he wouldn’t be needed. Has that ever happen to you? He’s supposed to be related to the main character, but that can’t be.

See ya next week!


Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I'm with you, Tony, on not holding to a set number of words each day, although it obviously works for others. I'm not one who can barrel through with a complete draft if I'm not happy with the first paragraph or the third or the twenty-first. I make my way through a draft agonizingly bit by bit. Once I've gotten to the end, I love making revisions. It's my favourite part of the process. It's then I can bounce around, making changes to various scenes or narrative passages, because there's a wholeness to the piece that will support those changes.

I like talking about what I'm writing to friends and family but I don't show a story to anyone until I'm happy with it. A novel would be different, though, because of its length and the time it takes to write. If I attempt a novel, I will review each chapter with Colin and my writing group, but I'm not sure about anyone else.

Sat Oct 20, 01:08:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Chumplet said...

When I'm comfortable with a chapter, I go over it once or twice and then hand it over to my critique group in pieces, usually about a thousand words at a time. They usually tell me if I have to clarify something, or if I left a hole in the plot.

Opinions vary, and I take what's useful to me and save their comments in a separate document. When I have enough input, I pull the chapter from the site and make the changes.

I don't start a new document with major revisions until I'm finished the first draft. Then I save it as a new document and make the changes.

This is handy when you start submitting. If one agent or editor doesn't like one aspect of the plot or a certain character, you don't want to make wholesale changes just in case the next agent actually likes that character.

Sat Oct 20, 03:28:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Interesting. I agree, Tricia, I love making revisions, especially if the process is working for me. Chumplet, that's interesting that you'd give a thousand words at a time considering connections sometimes span many pages. You're group must be very regular for you and up to date with your work in progress. Thanks for responding. This is great.

Sat Oct 20, 10:25:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Well, I do try to do a general wordcount, mostly because left to my own devises, I'd end up with zero and a cranky disposition. But I'm never especially precise about it. As for revision, I do a lot of longhand writing, so oftentimes revision is about me inputting and cleaning up as I key in the handwritten stuff. I definitely revise differently for my long works. I may discuss bits and pieces of something I am working on, but I try not to go into detail; instead, I think what I am trying to glean is information from the listener, and if he doesn't have anything to offer, I tend to keep mum. As for showing my longer works to folks, I've not really done so much of that. I think it feels right to only show folks once I get rather near to the story I want to tell. Then it's ready for recrafting, for me.

Sun Oct 21, 03:16:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Thanks for sharing, Tamara. That's great that you can write longhand. My hand cramps up if I write more than a page at a time.

Sun Oct 21, 03:07:00 pm GMT-4  

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