February 12th, 2007

On writing...

ravelda had an interesting post this weekend. I've been thinking about it, and I doubt if I can have one nearly as interesting, but reading all the comments made me want to try :)

jennifer_d_g and I were talking about revisions last week. I told her it made me think of a pile of yarn, tangled up on the floor. We, as writers, have to take that yarn and untangle it and weave it back together to make a beautiful (and cohesive) afghan.

When I look at the books that I wrote a year ago, that's what I see. The yarn is pretty enough, but it's a mess! I like the challenge of detangling and weaving anew -- but it's exhausting too. We've had many conversations on verla's about plot people versus character people. I've never really decided which I am -- but I think I'm closer to plot, perhaps. My books come to me as a situation...then I think about that situation until a person comes to mind, the right person to deal with the situation :)

I mentioned to Karen that I get most of my ideas from reading other books -- and this is why. Those books suggest a situation, and more often than not, I would rather work with that situation differently than the author chose to -- and usually with a very different mc. PRINCESS ACADEMY is a good example of this. When I first saw that title, a dozen ideas flooded my mind -- and I read the book almost feverishly...until I realized that not one of those dozen ideas was in that book. (Okay, just to reassure all of you -- I still liked the book very much.)

But since I had all these other ideas, I had to do something with them. I thought about it for a while, then picked my favorite situation -- the one I most hoped the book would have been about. And that's how I began DANCE ROUND THE WISPER AIR. I had the situation...then Luona appeared, and I knew she was the one person who could best deal with that situation -- she was the one who would turn a normal circumstance into something unique and extraordinary.

When I first wrote the book, I wandered all over the place. My first drafts can really be like that -- though one of the aspects of growth in my writing is that I'm learning how to cut down on the meandering before I put one word on the page. But anyway (well, maybe I haven't learned that -- here i am, wandering again) -- I ended up with 55K words about Luona and her situation. It was okay. I loved it, but I could tell something was missing. Although I got one whole request (okay, I was excited because it was my very first request from an agent -- and she ended up requesting the full from the partial...which led to a no), the book was not quite there. And I didn't know why. I still LOVED the premise, the situation -- and I loved Luona. So I set it aside...fast forward nine months. Because I loved the book so much, I included a blurb of it on my sheet for JJ...and she requested it.

Revising Luona was wonderful, really. Yes, it was overwhelming because at first I wasn't sure I'd be able to draw in the mess of yarn and make something lovely of it -- and to be honest, if I hadn't had an agent breathing down my neck (okay, here I am wishing that she really was waiting with bated breath, he-he), I probably wouldn't have perservered.

All this to say, I'd love to hear stories of your processes -- how you come up with ideas in the first place, how you picture the revisions to inspire yourself to go on -- anything of the sort ;)
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