Monday, February 23, 2009

*%$&# Rewrites!

I'm a seat of the pants writer for a reason. I don't want to spend a lot of time plotting and planning and thinking. I just want to write. But we all know a first draft is just that--the first. Usually, it's the first of many.

All of you who enjoy doing rewrites, raise your hands. Hmmm. Yeah, that's what I thought. That one raised hand was just someone stretching out a kink.

Rewrites, at least for me, are an evil, ableit a necessary evil. I want to write my story, be done with it, and move on to the next set of characters demanding my attention.

I just finished the third rewrite of a manuscript I've wanted to submit to a few agents. It was a delicate surgery, determining what to keep, what to remove, and where to bump up the story a few notches. The challenge is to do all of this without losing the essence of the story I wrote in the first place.

I liken the process to that of cosmetic surgery. (Or what I imagine performing such surgery to be like.) You want your manuscript to come out just a little perkier and fresher than it went in. But you want it to be recognizable. You know, not have its eyes up to its hairline, or a smile that won't--can't--fade. You get the picture.

So, how do you manage rewrites? And when do you know the story is finally ready for submission?


Friday, February 13, 2009

A Valentine's Day Short Story

My flash fiction story, My Valentine, is now posted at Long and Short Reviews. Click on the link for a heartwarming read.

Have a lovely Valentine's Day.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm Driving My Muse Crazy

Yes, it's official. I am driving my muse out of her mind. She's completely exasperated with me. But there are two sides to every story.

My muse has been jumping up and down, waving her hands wildly, shouting and, when that doesn't work, she whispers seductively in my ear. See, she has this great idea for a novel. I have to admit, it's pretty good. But I'm not listening. She really needs to slow down, chill a little. For cryin' out loud, let me finish what we've already started.

My muse is in running mode. I, on the other hand, am in amble mode. I want to take a nice, easy walk through the three manuscripts I'm either rewriting or completing. The lunatic... Sorry, my muse wants to start something new. She's always starting something new, insisting I stop what I'm doing and listen to her ideas.

Sound familiar? How do we writers pace ourselves? How do we know when a work is finished and can be sent off into the world in search of a publishing home, and we can move on to the next great idea? Pacing--it's a key element to every story--finding a rhythm, the ebb and flow.

We have to learn to pace ourselves as writers. I always have two or three manuscripts in various stages of completion at any given time. I can work that way--usually. But lately I've been like a rope in a tug of war, pulled between stories clamoring for completion.

So, I'm taking a few days to back up, slow down, and re-prioritize. Otherwise, I'll continue writing much like a dog chasing its own tail. I'll expend a great deal of energy, spin up a good breeze, and get nowhere.

What do you do when your muse runs amok with ideas and is insistent you write them down NOW? It's tricky. You certainly don't want to risk silencing him or her. Tell me, what do you do?

Linda (who has put her muse in a twelve-hour time out)