Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Additive Edit and Chapter Two Syndrome

So, the requisite writing update for those following that development (others feel free to skip this entry--I won't be offended!). Finished Project I (Linden Hall, my Revolutionary War era story, and again thanks to those who have helped by reading and giving feedback) is out with agents who have the full. I'm holding off on further querying at the moment for two reasons. One, if anyone who currently has it offers representation, I'm psyched--no need to keep shopping. Second, if no one offers representation, I'm going to pull back on it and do some reconstruction or assessment if I want to continue with it. Not a surrender, mind you, but a strategic retreat. A third, not quite explanatory, reason is that this querying thing is stressful and I need a little break from it before diving back in. So that's that, in a nutshell.

Not-Yet-Finished Project (December, my post-WWII story) has a rough draft. I've discovered an odd discrepancy between how I write rough drafts and how most (normal?) people write them. Most first pass editing advice and description focuses on cutting all the bits you don't need. My first pass is all about adding in the stuff I missed the first time around.

Once I had the bones of a draft, I let it marinate for a couple weeks and then read it. I didn't let myself make any nitpicky changes or revisions, but if I wasn't happy with a spot I could circle it or make a note. The point wasn't to fix, but to identify what was weak and why. And in the first round, what's weak for me is usually missing stuff.

I seem to have what I am calling Chapter Two Syndrome--Chapter One is fine and does what it needs, but I'm missing Chapter Two. Really, it's gone completely--I skip a requisite tension heightening, plot developping, character testing Chapter Two and head straight into a continuing the story mode of Chapter Three. So my first job in this edit was to create a Chapter Two.

Over an iced chai, Chapter Two emerged from backstory into active prose, from shadowy "this once happened" to immediate "this is happening now and that not only makes ever so much more sense but reads much better, too."

Now for the rest of the additions--and my printed paper copy (as I can't seem to see what's missing on screen) is chock-a-block full of pen mark brackets, scrabbly notes, giant stars, and warbled circles. Back to work!


Kathleen Wall said...

Querying is stressful, isn't it? I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the fulls turn into offers of representation! That's wonderful that you're getting requests. That means you are close, even if it doesn't work out!

Lua said...

My first pass is all about adding in the stuff I missed the first time around as well! After I do all the adding, then I get to the part where it's time to take out the unnecessary parts :)
Don't worry about chapter two, they are always problematic but always fixable ;)
Can't wait to hear your good news from the agents, I have faith in you- I believe we'll be reading your published book sometime soon!

Rowenna said...

Thanks, ladies! Lua--glad to know I'm not the only one who edits "backwards" :) Kathleen--hope your querying is going well and that you're avoiding too much stress!