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Monday, December 19, 2011

85,000 Words & Revising

Okay, I guess it's time to finally update everyone on the SFD* manuscript I roughed out in October as an experiment to see if it's even feasible to write 50,000 words in one month. If so, I planned to wholeheartedly endorse the increasingly popular NaNoWriMo marathon to my writing and journaling students as well as my writer friends. As you know from previous posts, I did it! And then some.

The best part of all this is it got me out of the writing funk and back into the writing groove.

I have been working on this manuscript ever since. I reached over 85,000 words during November, probably closer to 85,650 words, and during my daily revision process, cutting, switching paragraphs and sentences, deleting, adding, etc., the word count fluctuates but remains at about 85,000.

Word count, of course, is not important. What's important is that I am having a blast working on this project, one that took off once I found my POV narrator.

Here are a few more things I've learned about the writing process during the past three months:

It's important to be so in tune with your POV narrator that he or she takes over and just tells the story. This often doesn't happen so the way to force it to happen is to analyze the story idea from the viewpoint of different characters in the plot. The one you first thought might tell the story might not be the best one to choose. You need to know your narrator well. YOU are the author, not the narrator. Remember that.

It's important to continue to write daily, to live and breathe the story, so that you don't lose continuity. I found that my story holds together better this time because I took it in one huge plunge rather than spreading it out over years. I could more easily remember what happened earlier in the story and had a bead on what would happen later.

It's important to continue to read good books to stay inspired by the best that's out there. You aren't competing with these authors. You're being inspired to improve the level of your game. Just when you think you've got a perfect scene, you read a far better one in a novel and yearn to improve your own.

It's important to revise, revise, revise. As you do, you may discover the real story you are writing. To write, we must risk and make mistakes and that's why it's called the SFD*. Over and over, we must start again. Writing is RE-writing. As a sentence is retyped, it is often rephrased for the better or simply deleted. One word leads to the next, and every word must count and gleam. Writing is an art form and we must think like artists. Every sentence leads to the next. Nouns must be concrete; verbs must be active and appropriate; adverbs and adjectives must be scarce.

*SFD=Shitty First Draft

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