21 June 2012


As part of a creative non-fiction class I took during Spring term, I was required to write every day, revise at least two pages a week, and write and revise some longer pieces. I learned at least a couple important things about myself through this experience:
  1. I am not afraid to "kill my darlings," as the saying goes. Which is to say that I can look at a piece objectively, see what's not working well for it, and take those parts out, even if I really like them.
  2. Much harder for me is to add to a piece. Even when I have ideas about what to add, even when I recognize the imperfections in a piece, I face a fear that adding things will dilute what's already there or will change its meaning in a way I don't want or will otherwise just make the piece worse than it was before.
And now I am trying to revise the novella I completed a few weeks ago and running into my fear of revision once again. I can line and copy edit until the end of the world, but the problems in my manuscript will not be solved by fixing typos, rephrasing, or deleting.

At this point I think the biggest challenge with the novella is that I still don't have clarity about what's missing. I've heard several people's opinions, and some I can reject immediately as out of alignment with my vision, while others don't "feel" right but I can't say why, and other suggestions I'm thinking about seriously. But no one yet has said anything that makes me go "Yes! That's exactly it! That's exactly what's missing or off. Thank you. Now I can figure out how to solve that problem." How can you fix it if you don't know what the problem is?

Sigh. It's frustrating, because it's usually pretty easy for me to see in someone else's writing what's there and what's missing and to ask questions that might lead to further fleshing out, but I am terrible at being my own developmental editor.


  1. Is it the kind of story you go to the bookstore hoping you will find?

    Is it the kind of story you wish you could get inside and just... live?

    character... conflict... you probably have a handle on these

    but what about setting and atmosphere

    1. St. Eve--Yes, it's definitely the kind of thing I'd be interested in reading. Not so much live inside.

      I think the setting's solid.

      It may be that the character development is...a little jerky? I think it's mainly that the first 1/3 of the book is mostly exposition and it's a novella so only about 60 pages so I'm trying to cram way too much background into the first act as a set-up. No, here's what it is: yes, too much exposition in the first third, and yes I want to embed more of the background into action, but the WHOLE POINT of the character in the beginning is that she is BORING and likes it that way.

      So how do you embed background info and character development into a part of the book in which nothing much is supposed to happen because that's an integral part of the character?? Sigh.