Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm Impatient and I Hate It

I still struggle with the the virtue of patience and have for most of my life. However now I can wait for for my birthday in fact I wouldn't mind if they just stopped for a bit but that's another matter!

What I'm impatient for at the moment is to move forward in my revisions. I feel like I've been working on these opening chapters for ages and, well, I have and they have improved and grown. I know my main characters far better than i did a month ago. BUT I am itching to get working with the stuff I have written already - the bulk of the novel. I want to see see it take shape.

For the past few days I have been - blocked for a lack of a better word. I didn't stop working - I kept tightening and doing character exercises but what i wanted to was finish chapter three. I had written the first half of the chapter set in Barcelona and I needed a new scene with Victoria. I knew what I wanted the scene to accomplish and where it was set. I even knew who else was in it. You may think I should always know these things, but most of the time I don't - especially in a first draft. Yet this time I had it all even the time of day in my head. What I didn't have were the words. I don't actually believe in writer's block as such, but I do believe that when the words won't arrive something isn't right.

So here I am raring to move forward - I can see the way (even have a map of sorts - you know that dirty thing called a working synopsis which is a new experience for me on a second draft) and I'm stalled. Finally on the train back from Oxford today it hit me. I'm rushing. I'm desperate to reach key parts and I need to write more at the beginning. I just want to plunge in, but none of what happens after will have any real impact or even make sense unless I give the reader more time time to know the characters....I need to work on my virtues...

In the meantime I thought I'd put up the first paragraph and show you my tweaking. Here's version one:

The Toronto air was heavy with yet to fall rain. Demi could taste it as she took a deep breath. The new leaves on the trees glowed lime in the flat light. She paused and looked at the familiar houses on the street she had called home for so long. All was stillness; no kids on bikes, no game of kickball and no shouts of hide and seek. Nothing. She bit her tongue as the words ‘come out, come out wherever you are.’ hovered until a sudden breeze teased the leaves into motion. Only a thunderstorm would clear the atmosphere.

And here's the latest -

Demi stopped walking and looked at the familiar houses on the Toronto street that had been her home for twenty years. All was stillness; no kids on bikes, no game of kickball and no shouts of hide and seek. Nothing. She bit her tongue as the words ‘come out, come out wherever you are’ hovered until a sudden breeze teased the new leaves on the trees into motion. The air was heavy with yet to fall rain. She could taste it as she took a deep breath. Only a storm would clear the atmosphere.

14 comments:

Sarah Callejo said...

Funny how changing that first sentence gives the scene more movement.
Hope the words flow until the last line.
P.S.: you missed the "for home for twenty years", did you mean "her home for twenty years"?
I know I'm annoying, I spot mistakes in other people's work, wish I did in mine too!

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Sarah - the dyslexia lets me down on these things all the time!! Good luck with the writing.
lx

Liz Harris said...

I really liked the new version, Liz.

I was wondering, though, what time of day it was.

Although there are quiet residential areas in every town, the use of 'Toronto' suggests an urban setting and there are seldom times when an urban environment exhibits the stillness and lack of movement you described.

I wondered if it was the heaviness and humidity of the late afternoon, for example, that had emptied the streets, or if that part of the town had become uninhabited for some reason.

I know that all this will become clear as the novel progresses, but I was curious to know from the outset the time of day in which the opening paragraph was set.

Liz X

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Liz - it is late afternoon and to be honest I'm not sure if anywhere in the first scene i actually make that clear. Re the quietness its the suburbs so not city center and now I wondering how I can make that more apparent. Thanks for the help :-)
lx

Liz Harris said...

Could you do something like ..the familiar houses on the street in the Toronto suburb that had been her home ...

and 'the late afternoon air was heavy with yet to fall rain ..

Just suggestions.

It was only a little point in what I think is a very good paragraph, which leaves the reader wanting to know more.

Liz X

liz fenwick said...

Liz - Great suggestion and thanks

lx

Liz Harris said...

Feel free to ignore them!!!

I'm not going to have a hissy fit if I don't see them in the final, or a nearer to final version. It was just an idea.

Liz X

liz fenwick said...

Liz - one of beta readers pointed out that she didn't know the scene was set in Toronto until page two...of course I being so close to the damn thing had never even thought about it. I think it's one of the things I really need to think of- the reader having enough information but not too much. It's a tricky balance especially when you are so close and know every detail including everything that isn't on the page.

Who knows when the 'final' version will be ready :-)

Thanks - lx

Chris Stovell said...

I think your point about the words not coming when something is wrong is spot on, Liz - I always think it's a warning sign and then go back and unpick. Good luck with yours.

Jayne said...

I love the revised paragraph, really hits home and I think you're right on the 'block' too - if the words won't come then yep, something needs changing :-) Doesn't always need to be much though!x

liz fenwick said...

Chris and Jayne - it's such a learning curce to find out what doesn't work or needs more alas...
lx

DJ Kirkby said...

I liked the enhanced excerpt but think it's a shame you left this bit out: "The new leaves on the trees glowed lime in the flat light." I used to live in Ontario and you're right, the leaves do "glow lime" in the right light.

DJ Kirkby said...

Just saw your comment to Sarah! You're dyslexic too? I wonder how many writers are?

liz fenwick said...

DJ - i loved that bit too but didn't want to overwhelm the paragraph without to much description.

Re dyslexic writers - loads are. I think it may be because we have struggled with words and have vivid imaginations :-)

lx