Monday, June 10, 2013

Day Ten of BuNoWriMo - my process

 I love hearing about other people's process as they get a manuscript ready for the world. I thought I would share mine, at this point.  Last year, during the writing novel month the Burrowers organize, BuNoWriMo, in June, I started Bright Angel, although I think it was called The Barrens at that point. I wrote my fifty thousand words in June and then kept writing until I think I had 70 thou by the end of July.  It was a busy time - during it we'd put the house on the market and sold it so we were packing and unloading thousands of books etc ... I really liked the novel though. It went quickly and I kept it simpler than past ones - not so many side stories and characters. I did have four voices though - Pinky, her mother Lou, her sister Em, and her great-step-aunt Ethel. Eventually, in the ten months between (three different houses and all that that means) I got the story being told down to Pinky and Ethel. I got my hired editor to have a look and she helped me make it brighter and tighter. I kept revising it until it became really the story I wanted but something was still not working. My writing group loved Pinky but found her too intense and too interior - she was always ranting about what had happened. Finally, my friend and beta-reader - Hart, of  Watery Tart fame, gave me the missing bit. I had the story down - now I needed to show it instead of having Pinky rabbiting on about it.

How do I do that? I take every chapter and make it, as much as possible, be happening. More dialogue, less   remembering. Pinky still gets to be the wild girl she is, but we aren't in her head so much as we are in her life.
 The first thing I do though, is go over what I did the day before. I can easily pick up problems that way and I don't find it onerous. I feel like I'm a peasant that gleans the field
- over and over - saving what is precious and abandoning what is dross.

The Gleaners by
Jean-François Millet

Then, after going through the day before's work I start on the next part. I might finish a chapter or two depending on what state of action it is in. I'm pleased with how it is going. I'm down to about 55 thousand words. I'll probably be up to between 58 and 60 by the time I'm done. Long enough for a YA, which I'm thinking this is. I'm still slashing and burning but I can also see where new stuff needs to come in.

What is your process?


Margot Kinberg said...

Jan - Thanks for sharing the way you've been putting Bright Angel together. I think you're right; we all have a different process for writing. I like to sketch out a whole story - at least the bare bones of it. Then I go back and fill in later. I think the reason I do that is that because I write crime fiction, I have to figure out who's the victim, who's the criminal, etc., and figure out how my sleuth goes about solving the case. All of that has to be kind of organized, so I guess my story does too. Make sense?

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Johanna Garth said...

I think we all have tendency to get inside our character's heads, but I notice dialogue is sort of like a magic pill to bring things back to life.

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