Friday, December 5, 2008

This Week

I did well this week. As you can see on the right, I spent the week revising (for the third time officially, but since I revise just about every time I work on a manuscript, who's to say how many) UP NORTH: THE VACATION JOURNAL OF FINLEY S. PATTERSON. Careful readers will note that the title changed this week. The character's last name was originally JACOBSON, but since Jacobson is a very Jewish sounding surname and since I am the least Jewish person I know, and also since the character is in no way meant to be Jewish, I thought a name change would be best. And, as it turns out, I like Patterson just fine, thank you.

Revising for me takes many forms. First, there's the stuff that I just change on the screen when I read through what I previously wrote. These are mostly things like word changes, occasional sentence structure, and punctuation (especially commas, oh how I loathe the comma). Then, when I finally finish that first draft (and all the revisions included therein) I print out a hard copy, single-spaced, and I put it in a red three-ring binder so that it sort of resembles a book.

Once in the binder, I try to let the thing marinate for a few weeks, but this really depends on what else I have in progress. When I pick it up again, I try to read it as though it is new. This is damn near impossible, which is why I eventually ask others to read the thing.

As I read through this first time, I cross things out, change things, draw arrows to reorganize, fix typos, write questions to myself, and make copious notes in the margins and on the blank backs of the pages. Then it's back to the computer to key in the changes and address whatever problems I can. Often, I am left with a laundry list of things that need further work, scenes that don't quite work or might not even be necessary, research to do, and all sorts of other problems I may or may not be able to fix.

Over the new few weeks, I return to the manuscript often, rereading, hoping for inspiration, enjoying a particularly well-written part, and making more notes. With each reading, I continue to ask myself, "What's it all about?" What I'm looking for is a theme that can unify the story and help me with my ending because I almost always hate my ending.

And that's pretty much where I'm at with UP NORTH. I've got a list of about ten scenes that need something and I'm unsatisfied with parts of my ending. I may try to revise these things now, but more likely, I'm going to hand the thing over to somebody else for a few weeks and get some feedback. Fresh eyes never hurt.

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