Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Playing With Colour - Another Little Revision Exercise

Followers of the blog will know that I am a seat of your pants writer. Once I begin a story (usually with only the beginning, end, my main characters, and location), I write the first draft feeling my way. Not very scientific or organized but that’s how the story teller in me works – I like being surprised.

This slapdash method has huge pitfalls and I have fallen into each and every one of them. However I can’t ever see my writing method changing so I need to tackle how to fix the problems without killing my voice or the life of the story. Herein the difficulty lies.

When I took the fiction mantle back onto my shoulders in 2004, I thought it would be easy. I could write and I could tell stories. Simple. No. I can see with hindsight that from 2004 until today I had to relearn how to write prose again. Now I need to work on the mechanics of making my story better, tighter, and correctly paced. These, with those previously tackled, are the tools of writing. They need to be in shape so that the stories I need to tell are conveyed in the best way they can be.

These past five years have taught me is that this journey is not a race. Finally I have embraced this apprenticeship time. The current state of publishing is also a bonus for the unpublished writer. The pressure is off because things are so bad. Now is the time to fine tune skills and write books for the joy of it.

So yesterday I played again with my highlighter collection. Using Scene One, I looked at exactly what was there – description (pink), dialogue (orange), action (green), introspection (no colour). I wanted to see how the balanced or unbalanced it was. When in the full flow of the first draft, I never consider these things – my only thought is to get the story onto the page. Now ACH has been worked on before and I think the balance reflects this - so it would be interesting to do this exercise on a scene from Penderown which hasn’t been touched to find out whether I naturally balance these things or I am totally unbalanced (my suspicion). I do know that when writing dialogue – I just go for it. I don’t put speech tags or actions in and I need to layer these in afterwards.

So have you looked (visually) at the balance of a scene? And if so has it helped?
Finally a few links....
- a brave and thought provoking post by JA Konrath
- This link came via @BubbleCow on twitter Behler Blog gives Tough Advice


cs harris said...

I don't think I've ever looked at my scenes with markers in hand. But I have looked at scenes (esp in my thrillers), realized I had almost all action and no dialogue, and so gone looking for places where characters could realistically say something (even if it's just "Oh, shit"). Or I'll realize I'm not showing how my characters are reacting emotionally and add that in. I find that happens when I'm focused on the action in the original writing.

I use colored notecards when plotting--or when analyzing a manuscript 's story arc that doesn't "feel" right. But then the focus is on elements of the story rather than a balance of action, dialogue, or introspection.

Debs said...

I was recently stressing out that my editing wasn't going as quickly as I'd planned, and my mother said, "What's the rush?"

It made me step back and think for a bit, and now, like you, I'm enjoying this apprenticeship.

liz fenwick said...

CS - I made try the coloured note cards as i am beginning to see the advantage of the visual to help me 'see' things. thanks!

Debs - yes-we need to embrace our apprenticeship :-)