Building By Deleting

I’m continuing to work on the novel-in-progress, April Showers 1921. Its challenges remain remaining and satisfying with a few dips into frustrating.

I’ve recently re-discovered the joy of deleting to build and improve the tale. When I began with the concept, it had a bajillion directions that it could take. I wrote about half of them, writing two to three thousand word chapters about the directions, exploring the characters, plot, and arcs. That resulted in a complex novel with a complicated plot, and extensive raw material. As I neared completion of the first draft, I met the muses at a crossroads. We agreed that some matters needed clarified and changed.

With mostly their guidance, I went through, exploring that first mess. Sometimes I attempted to work something into the mix, mostly because I enjoyed the passage. But, as often noted, sometimes killing favorite scenes help. As I deleted them (putting them into another documented that was a collection of these things…just in case…), I discovered how much the process sharpened my insights into the characters, situation, storylines, plots, and arc. With more focused insights, my writing and story-telling became crisper. My direction was better defined; I had more understanding of the final destination.

All of this wasn’t done overnight, but through several days of frequently frustrating searching and thinking. Sometimes I went backwards and then had to retrace my steps.

Now I’ve gone on into thinking of this mass as more like a giant piece, waiting to be sculpted molded, or carved. Unlike working in clay, wood, stone, or other hard, substantial materials, the novel’s characteristics change, depending upon how, where, and why they fit. Some pieces of the novel are solid. Only fine chiseling and polishing are needed. Other sections are thick, and I carve whole chunks away. Some are softer and more pliable, demanding shaping to improve coherency, pacing, motivation, and story-telling.

The process of writing and thinking about writing a novel often intrigues me as much as the novel-in-progress. As every novel is unique, so is the process used to write it.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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