Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing is Super Hard

throwback to working on substantive edits last year about a month before the book went on submission 
During the winter my editor ( who is very lovely and fortunately gets the intent of my project) and I conversed a lot about the original draft of the manuscript. In said draft, half of the viewpoint was in first person and the other half in third.  Yes this actually happened. Yes we sent it into the world like that. Yes I still got a book contract..... inconceivable. 

I never intentionally set out to accomplish this, it just happened. Especially the more Ray DeLuca fought the girls for space on the page ( #characterproblems) .  I love my first person, I do. But I also found I could widen the scope of the book with third person.    Editor asked me to choose either first or third for the whole novel.    As this wasn't one of the hills I was going to die on, I agreed. Also, I compromised and negotiated so that the three novellas accompanying my books will be told in Jem's sprightly first person narrative. I love her voice, I love crawling into her mind. I love the way she sees the world.

The others---- omniscient third.



Well. This means an entire rewrite of the entire novel, obviously, with a completely different slanted POV.    I could have easily said "Sure! let's do them all in first person ....!" but I had already started writing snippets of the subsequential books and had cast my net wide. I knew I needed more than Jem quoting other people for pages as Watson does in the Holmes' canon.   Face it: it gets super tedious and I would much rather see the action through Holmes and Watson's eyes and not, I dunno, Grimsby friggin' Roylott or that Mormon in Study in Scarlet.

So, I sat and thought .........

oh Thom Crom, I feel your pain!!! #unamused

It is a gargantuan task.   But it is a voice that feels natural to me as a writer especially as I am at the point where I know the characters, their mechanizations, their motivations and their ultimate ends so well.


I decided --- bereft of my lovely Jem's first person in Bachelor Girl's Guide ----to pretend that I was still hearing her. That she was the one who was recording. That the action was very much a result of her inference, influence and seen through her perspective. She is, for those of you familiar with Scandal in Bohemia--- my Boswell. And I am lost without her. You may not see that on page, but this trilogy favours Jem.  It is still Jem's world and Jem's view of her friends and Jem's blend of idealism, romanticism and adventure that peppers the page.

I *Wolf Hall-ed it


I decided to go through and immediately cut out any unnecessary scenes.  What would be the use of working them into a different voice and perspective if they were probably going to end up on the cutting room floor? snip snip.


Then, I made a list of my favourite scenes. The scenes that I wanted in the novel and counted them: how many switched from first to third mid sequence? How many fell naturally into Jem's over-arching narrative or action?   I kept those.

Ephemera: My book is very much a cornucopia of snippets --- newspaper headlines and quotes from two fictional authorities--- MC Wheaton to represent Merinda and her talent for deduction, Dorothea Fairfax, to weigh in on how Jem is clashing with the ideal model of an Edwardian bachelor girl.

How could I use these to cut and paste action, condense and realign?

Then, I let myself play.  I picked a few scenes and just played. I played with voice and tone.  I played with dialogue. I played with dialogue tags and how often I interfered with the flow of my characters' babbling. I played with inference. I played as if I was a master marionette puppeteer and I was wiggling the strings on my happy little people.


And then I drank a lot of wine.  And I am drinking wine and revising to this day.

The End.

*Wolf Hall: novels by Hilary Mantel in which Thomas Cromwell is everything and everything is Thomas Cromwell and seen through Cromwell's intense gaze .

2 comments:

Kara Isaac said...

Holy moly, girl. I thought my developmental edits for Then There Was You were like trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again but whew you got me beat hands down! I wouldn't even know where to start with omniscient third!!

Brenda Wilkerson said...

I'm impressed!!