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Monday, August 2, 2010

Snip, snip, snip.

So revisions continue. I feel a little proud of myself, without really intending to I managed to cut 2K words from my WIP - AND I found a couple more scenes that can be cut back quite a bit, though I haven't exactly decided what parts of them are going to be cut. The big thing that happened this week though, is that I went back on my decision to change a plot arc. I tried it, honestly I did, but as I was making revisions, I felt like the main character was changing too much in relation to how her mother was interacting with her. Along with that I was having to cut too many scenes that I really liked and it actually started to make me depressed. So, I decided to go back to my original story arc. But, I did manage to get something out of the process. My main character's mother now has more personality (at least I think so), and I switched a few things in the main body of the story that will hopefully drive the plot arc with her mother forward a bit more. I know I'm being kind of vague here, but to give you a hint, it involves Nikki stealing her mother's divorce papers. Overall, it was a good lesson in how to treat your story - as your own. Some ideas are good and you can and should try them out, but if they don't feel right and you find yourself not liking the story as much then you shouldn't force it. It is your story after all.

I also thought that today I'd share a bit of my revisions. So here is the original scene that introduces Nikki's mother, followed by the revision. In the revision, which is a bit longer, I tried to show the differences in their respective personalities while still maintaining that Mom is sensitive to Nikki's predicament, having lost her sister 9 months ago. The words in italics come from Nikki's sister, who Nikki occasionally imagines is talking to her.

Original:

“I know you’re awake, pumpkin,” she said. “You’re too much of a restless sleeper to fool your mother.”

I remained perfectly still.

“But, if you want to sleep in today that’s fine. I can’t imagine why a young girl would want to go to school when she has a secret admirer.”

Secret admirer? What was she talking about?

“If he’s anything like his friend… but then I’m not an expert when it comes to handsome men with French accents.”

“French accent?” I ripped the covers off.

“So you are awake?”

“What are you talking about? A guy with a French accent?”

“He came to the door just now to deliver these to you.” She handed me a long white box with a red ribbon tied around the center. “Tall, well built, with the nicest manners. He called me Madame. Just like that, Maa-daam.”

Guy.

“He said these were from Sam.”

Sam.

Revision:

My hand floated to the back of my head, but before I could feel for a bump, a soft knock on the door flew me into a panic. Knowing it was my mother, I flopped backwards and pulled the covers over my head. She knocked again, louder.

“I’m coming in, Nikki.”

I pretended to sleep as she padded across the floor. There was a squeak and then a splash of light filtered through my blanket. I pulled the quilt down just enough to make a peephole.

Suddenly her face was in my field of vision. “Time to wake up, Nik.” She grabbed the quilt and ripped it off.

“God, you’re rude,” I said and wrestled for the blanket. “I’m cold and that light is too bright. Shut the curtain.”

“Of course you’re cold.” Her brow puckered with disapproval. “Look what you’re wearing.”

“It’s a t-shirt.”

“I’m not sure that counts as a t-shirt. But as long as you don’t wear it to school, I’m not going to argue. As for the curtain, you need more light in here.” To prove her point she went to the other window, stepping over a pile of clothes and nearly knocking down a tower of CDs along the way. She opened that curtain as well and turned around. Seeing an empty cereal bowl on my desk, she held it up for inspection.

“What? It was dry.”

She sighed. “Nikki, you have to clean this up. Or at least…” Her eyes swept over Shani’s neater half of the room, and then back at mine. Her nose crinkled. “This room is so off-balance,” she finished.

She’s talking Feng Shui again, isn’t she?

Well, you’ve got to admit this room sort of resembles that old Batman character, what was his name? Two Face?

“Maybe we should move you into the other room,” Mom added. “It’s too dark in here.”

“No! I like the attic. It’s roomy.”

“For two people it made sense, but now that…” Her voice trailed off as she picked up one of Shani’s books. She swiped her hand across it as if to lift the dust off. But it came back clean. She looked at it and then back at me. “Well, you think about it,” she said and replaced the book on its shelf. She walked to the chair in the corner and grabbed a long white box. “A boy delivered these this morning. They’re for you.”

“For me?”

“Tall guy, well built, with a French accent.”

Guy.

“He said these were from Sam.”

Sam.

7 comments:

Joann Swanson said...

Wow, Angie. What an incredible rewrite! As a reader I definitely get a more complete view of Mom - her sorrow, the character bit about feng shui (nice), her interactions with Nikki.

I went through a similar process with Serendipity - writing in story arcs that sounded good at the time, but ended up detracting from my original vision. I got depressed too - a lot. It is nice, though, when we know our story so well that some ideas just ring completely untrue.

mellymel said...

Really nice re-write, Angie. It's amazing how much more that scene gives the reader now. Great job!

mellymel said...

I also want to add that I think it's really cool for you to share your revision process. Kuddos to you for that! (It's also like an extra teaser)

Angie said...

Thanks guys. I feel a bit funny posting revisions, like what if people think that I'm pedaling backwards? And sometimes I'm sure that I am. I cut out another 200 words just now. Shortened the smexy scene - it's less melodramatic now, but much better I think. Maybe I'll post some of that next week. :)

Nomes (inkcrush) said...

well done on the re-writes, i man, the fist one was great anyway, but the second has such a stringer vibe and connection for me.

i'm wishing i was at the re-write stage. my first draft is floundering. i think i need to be more of a plotter and less of a pantser, i keep writing a few k, then slashing it after i realise what direction i should be going in...

Jen said...

Wow Angie you rocked at this!!! I loved that you were so brave to share your original piece and the revisions! You are so much better!!!

Angie said...

Thanks for the additional comments.
Nomes - I tend to usually wing the first 10K or so and then do a plot outline, so I guess I'm kind of in the middle. But, yeah, getting yourself into the habit of plotting is hard.

Jen - Brave? haha. Not so sure about that, but thanks anyway.

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