Saturday, February 24, 2007

Making Narrative Better Through Editing

So with both my short story and novel, I've started learning about the importance of revising. Editing can really help changing stories for the better (or, I guess if you're a bad writer, for the worse).

Other than the short story, I haven't really revised any work and gotten it published. Through trial, error and a suggestion given to me back in 1997 or 1998, though, I've learned to break down my censor and self-consciousness while writing a rough draft. I think I've written about this whole matter in a past entry, which basically can get summarized as confidence pretty much comes down to breaking through self censorship and that a professional writer should reach that point for rough drafting. By doing so, said professional will find plenty of great material.

I've found that I have a tendency of writing first (rough) drafts in a form of linear story telling with flashbacks showing up here and there. Overall, though, the rough draft gets told in a straight ahead linear, action-by-action, fashion. After getting through the rough draft, I then try to enter an expansive stage with the writing, again, not caring too much about repetition, consistency, tightness or small things that won't bore the reader. Plot and character aspects may change here and there to allow for more of an interesting situation.

From there, I'm all about making things tight and enjoyable to read. I haven't, unfortunately, really reached this stage in any of my writing yet.

I still have the whole making the story more concise and more entertaining to read aspects in my mind, mostly through my more semi-conscious ruminative mind but still there on the edges. This past week, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about my tendency to write the expansive rough drafts while thinking about the tightening and narrative elements. He mistakenly thought I got down on myself with these aspects and got in the way of my Muse while writing rough drafts. We cleared up that whole mix-up quickly enough, but I felt proud that I could write without my censor while also ruminating on making the writing tighter.

The ways that I plan on changing these pieces really excites me somewhat, even if I won't reach that stage for awhile. For the novel, it will take a long while since I still have at least 100 pages more to write before finishing the linear story telling. The short story will take a little bit of time, too, since I plan on adding a new final scene. I may also adjust other parts of the story, but I don't know if I should before changing the framework.

I don't plan on changing the linear story telling for the novel so much. Rather I plan on radically revising the form one point of view takes. The straight forward linear moment-to-moment story telling will be cut down while snippets of her correspondence and conversations will get presented at other times. Not much action-action happens during the latter moments and enough exposition will occur during them. At the same time, the audience won't get as annoyed with the character.

Now, with the short story, I want to change all sorts of things around. The linear approach really doesn't work well for creating suspense or for making an impact on the audience. Instead, I plan on taking on something more of a mystery/crime genre approach to the story as told by one of the bad guys. The issue will be can this guy be defeated, and if so, how? I think this approach will work better than just telling a straight ahead story as told by an unreliable narrator. Hopefully I haven't spoiled the story for anyone.

It is cool the way revising can re-tool narratives to make them more interesting for the author and audience.

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