Hey—get back here!
Where do my characters go? You can see one of them running away from me at right. I think it’s Jack Trainer. Madeleine O’Brien might have gotten out the door ahead of him.
As many of you know, I’m in the midst of rewrites and revisions to my novel Death Out of Time based on my beta reader comments. And some of the characters are being less than helpful. That makes the work harder than it should be.
I honestly think rewrites and revisions are harder than writing the initial story. Think about it. That first draft shapes the story in a writer’s mind (at least it does in mine). But when readers consistently point out problems such as too many characters or too complex a plot, a good writer recognizes there is a real problem. Changes must be made.
At this stage, I don’t think it matters if you’re an outliner or a pantser. You’ve got to figure out what to cut, what to revise, what to add, how will that affect other parts of the story … you get the picture. And that’s never easy.
Part of my problem is in the tunnel that I envision between my world and that of my characters. When we first finished building it, the tunnel was wide and clean. Ideas flowed smoothly between us. But as we worked on the early drafts, we ignored the garbage piling up on the tunnel floor. What garbage, you ask? Oh, things like discarded dialogue tags, cut characters, and pooh-poohed plot twists.
This is not Jack Trainer. It might be David Monroe.
As I look at the tunnel floor after two drafts, I see a ton of garbage. And it’s hard to maneuver around it. The floor needs a good cleaning. But am I getting help with that? HA! Who ever wants to help with housework?
No, most of my characters are on vacation somewhere. Maybe sitting on a tropical beach in the South Pacific. Or hiking in the Rockies. Or maybe they’re just hiding out in their homes with the blinds drawn, hoping I’ll go away and finish the work on my own.
To be fair, a few folks are helping. I’ve got some lovely imported Spanish wine set aside for David, Valerie, and Ortzin. Hmm, that last character’s name might have you wondering…. Remember, this book centers on time travel. That’s all I’m saying about him. 🙂
I’m ready for the Muse to step in. She has the power to find the truant characters, round them up, and make them pull their share of the load on the revisions. But I have this sneaking suspicion she’s drinking mojitos with the gang on the tropical beach.
The reality is this. I have to find them, round them up, and make them work with me. And to do that, I have to pull my writing brain together. Revisions are hard. Part of me has a hard time settling down to do it. And that part has gotten too much of the upper hand.
So if my comments on your posts are getting shorter, or I sometimes only leave a “like” when I used to comment, it’s because I have to spend more time with the books. My novels are the reason for the blog. I hope you’ll understand.
And now if you’ll excuse me, I just got a tip that Madeleine was spotted at a nearby shopping mall….
You’re coming with me, O’Brien.
PS. On a fun note, I typed the opening scenes of my WIPs into the “I Write Like” web site. I
stole borrowed the idea from Kathlis’s recent post. You get a comparison to famous writers based on your word choices and frequencies. It was fun. According to the site, my opening scene for Death Out of Time is reminiscent of Jack London. Hmm. That’s not bad company.
As a lark, I entered the opening scene for each alternate universe of Summer at the Crossroads. While these all deal with the “same” woman as a main character, her life is different in each universe. And, apparently, so is my writing of them. I got the following results:
Catherine Donnelly = Ernest Hemingway. Trust me. I do NOT write like Hemingway.
Katharine Donnelly = Raymond Chandler. Um, I really don’t think so.
Kathryn Donnellan = Dan Brown. Wow. Mega sales, here I come! LOL
Katarina O’Donnell = Anne Rice. Hmm. More mega sales! I’m not holding my breath. 🙂