Saturday, March 31, 2007


For the past month, I haven't looked at the third draft of BLUFF.

It's been simmering.

But last week, I read it straight through. In many ways, it's like seeing the story fresh for the first time.

There's a lot I like about it. A lot.

But there are weak places, too. Plenty of them.

I'd say the biggest improvement from draft two to draft three is the major structural rearranging I did. In addition, being able to flit back and forth among the various chapters really sped up and simplified the writing/rewriting process. (See previous posting.)

The story is still too spare, though.

A writing book I'm finding helpful is "Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction" by David Michael Kaplan (Story Press). There's even a brilliant chapter entitled "Adding What is Essential." It's just what I need.

The next step in the rewrite process, then, will be to read portion's of Kaplan's book as I continue to rewrite what I hope will be my second book.

Watch this space.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

From Brooding to Flitting

In my last entry, I wrote of "brooding" over the current structure of BLUFF (book two in my Lark Chadwick Series.) During last month's rewrite process, I had a great creative experience: I call it "flitting."

It starts with good organization.

In my computer, a new manuscript draft gets a new folder. Each chapter/scene gets its own sequentially-numbered slot along with a nickname so that at a birds-eye glance I have a visual cue as to what happens where. I also have a scene outline -- one page (it's become 6) where all the scenes are thumbnailed.

All the ponderous brooding and wholesale rearranging I did during the rewrite process paid off when I discovered "flitting."

Here's how it works:

In Flit Mode, I can decide to dip into the manuscript where ever I want, make the necessary changes, jump back to the scene overview to decide what needs to be worked out next. I don't have to get bogged down on tedious line-by-line edits (yet). For now, I simply flit all over the manuscript making repairs, smoothing, adding, fixing.

It feels great.

And I'm making progress (or am sufficiently deluded into believing that I am).

Of course, all you serious writers out there have been doing this -- or something way better -- for years, but for me it was a Eureka Moment I had to share.

Hope it helps.

Your thoughts?


The Rewrite Process

I feel that my approach to writing is different from what I hear from other writers. Some say, "The characters just take over the story." Others say they write in a stream of consciousness and things eventually come together.

None of that has ever happened to me.

Am I doing something wrong?

As a writer, I have to know where I'm going. That's not to say that I'm inflexible. I often make changes, but I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels and wasting time if I don't at least have a destination in mind.

Right now I'm in serious Rewrite Mode. A month ago, I finished the third draft of BLUFF and the going is slow.

In book one, FAST TRACK, my rewrite task was to whittle the manuscript down from the original 130,000-word mishmash to the lean 76,000-word version that was released in hardcover more than a year ago. (A trade paperback re-issue is in the works). But now, my problem is just the opposite: the structure is solid, but the ms is an anemic 56,000 words.

During the month or so it took me to revise the third draft, I brooded over a list of scenes I made that gives me an overview of the story, including key plot pivot points.

I did a LOT of brooding, almost to the point of being Nixonesque.

But I made progress. I rearranged some things, did a better job of camouflaging the villain, added tantalizing red herrings, and did a better job of playing up one of the scapegoat characters. It felt great, but when I did an actual word count, I'd only fattened things up by fewer than 10,000 words. I have to add another 15,000 before my agent will even take a serious look at it.

So, that's my dilemma: I have a solid story -- and it's getting better. I can feel it. But I have to find ways to add texture and depth in ways that aren't just padding, but actually reinforce the story.

So, the brooding will continue.

And I'll write, too, in hopes that something miraculous will happen as I type.

It'll be a step of faith.

I'll let you know what happens, and I'll look forward to any thoughts on creativity you might have.
To be continued......