Wednesday, 24 March 2010

It's Good to Talk

The edit/rewrite continues. I'm loving adding to my word count in the side bar each day. Over 14,000 words edited so far. And I'm actually really enjoying it. The lovely Anna Chilvers author of the splendid Falling Through Clouds told me I would and I should have just believed her - thanks Anna.

Had a particularly chewy scene to deal with today. On the original draft I had scrawled 'what is this scene trying to do?' across it. After reading this post on Calistro's blog and doing some big doodling with a sparkly purple pen borrowed from the daughter's pencil case I found the answer. Then I looked at the scene. It wasn't doing it. The characters were there, Id set the scene but 'it' wasn't happening.

What to do?

I was so mired in the original scene that I found it really difficult to imagine rewriting it even though I knew it had to be done. Then I remembered an exercise we did recently at my Stephen May writing class. I got a blank piece of paper and a non-sparkly pen (optional) and wrote the scene completely as dialogue. I didn't worry about style or precision. I just let the characters chat, pretty much as I thought they would do in real life. Their conversation veered off in various directions but in the end after pages and pages of chinwagging and confabulation I knew that in amongst it all I had managed to tell 'it'.

It took me the rest of the day to edit it down, getting rid of lots of the dialogue in the process, especially the 'Well yeahs' and 'What do you means?' and the bit when they started discussing house prices in York (?!). Then I put back in all the description and action bits.

The scene is now so much better. There is a point to it. The reader learns more about the characters and their desires and fears. It moves the story on. It has a beginning, a middle and an end - yay!

A sigh of relief and a new technique learned. I imagine it won't be the last time I will be using it. 66,000 words to go.


HelenMHunt said...

That sounds like a really useful technique. I may even use it when I get stuck back into my rewrite.

Jumbly Girl said...

Helen - Hope you find it useful too

Bernadette said...

That sounds like a great idea. Hope the rest of the rewrite goes well.

Jumbly Girl said...

Thanks Bernadette!

Karen said...

Confabulation is a very good, and possibly Yorkshire, word !

I found that post on Calistro's blog really useful too, and I've added Falling Through Clouds to my TBR list too - it sounds great.

Good luck with the rest of the editing, it sounds like you're on a roll :o)

Jumbly Girl said...

Karen - Yeah those Romans nicked all our best words :o) Glad FTC is on on your TBR - it's a jolly good read.