Monday, October 11, 2010

Clean Up

I finished the big rewrite of A CORNISH HOUSE and at the moment I'm still pretty happy with it - this of course will morph into it is total rubbish soon, but I will enjoy the 'it's okay' sensation while it lasts. When doing the sort of rewrite I have just completed, the focus was totally into the emotion and motivation and the plot ...so I didn't look at the small stuff, the niggly stuff which leaves me with a whole lot of cleaning to do....especially as I added nearly 15,000 words to the story.

So I have been cleaning and I thought I'd share with you what that has meant thus far. When I did the last rewrite I did an index card for each scene. On it I list the basics:

chapter
scene number (this is continuous through the book 1-115 in ACH's case)
page numbers
POV
Location or locations
Who is in the scene
Basic point of the scene

These cards have been handy for referring back to - for example I wanted to know when I introduced a character or another thread of the story.

Now in my cleaning up process (aside from crossing the Ts and dotting the Is) I am adding two more things to the cards:

First line of scene
Last line of scene

This is so I make sure that they all don't open with my heroine sitting drinking coffee or something etc (thank you Anita Burgh for this suggestion)

I am looking very closely at dialogue and dialogue tags...thank you to Nicola Morgan for her timely post on the subject here.

Also, now that the story is truly in place I reread a post by Cath Bore reporting on a workshop she attended with Joe Finder entitled A Sense of Suspense which is helping me makes sure that I keep the mystery going....

I am keeping a time line to make sure that it is chronological (as it is important to the story) and as I have chopped and changed things along the way I have found some real humdingers on the time front...

Finally I'm looking hard at each scene again and asking if it really needs to be there...now that the story is totally in place I feel I can be even harder on those scenes I quite liked but....

The last stage will be listening to the story again...my ears are better at spotting awkward phrases and missing words than my eyes will ever be...What do you do when you 'clean up' a manuscript?

10 comments:

ninaharrington said...

What a terrific process! Scary but brilliant. Not many people have that diligence and courage.
Now if only I could do the same...

Have a great week, love Nina

Phillipa said...

Liz - congrats because you are so organised! I rewrite most scenes and the book so many times along the way that I try and hoover up typos, inconsistencies and repetitions wuth each pass. But I think there's no substitute for a fresh pair of eyes, it's almost impossible to spot these details in your own work.

liz fenwick said...

Nina - you are one of the most diligent writers I know - your process is amazing....

Phillipa - who do you use as your fresh pair of eyes? I use my ears...although i will be asking for professional help on this one before I ship out...

lx

Sue Guiney said...

I think this is a great system. It's reminiscent of what I do at the start to get me organized, but going back and redoing it after the thing is rewritten is a great idea. I think I'll use it this time. Thanks!

liz fenwick said...

A pleasure Sue :-)

lx

Karen said...

I have an online writing partner - we exchange a chapter a week on a private blog - and she's great for picking up inconsistencies as well as giving constructive feedback.

Good luck :o)

liz fenwick said...

Karen - what an excellent system

lx

cathbore said...

A great post - always interesting to see how other writers work. Thanks for plugging my blog!

liz fenwick said...

A pleasure cath :-)

lx

Liz Harris said...

Really interesting blog, Liz.

I hone things as I go alone, reading and re-reading before I go on to the next chapter.

Despite that, it's incredible what I miss. That 'fresh pair of eyes' is essential, provided that it's a pair of critically-aware eyes - not one's ma or a best friend - and I would never in the future send anything out that hadn't been subjected to professional scrutiny.

Good luck with 'A Cornish House'.

Liz X