Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Writing and Revising

I had a strange realization this morning. I am finding the task of revising my novel for a final draft much more daunting than the task of actually writing the thing.

See, the writing process was very straightforward. I took my outline to Starbucks every day and put more words on the page. It was a purely linear process—even though I wanted, at times, to go back and revise things I'd written before, I didn't have time. So I basically started on page 1 and wrote straight through to page 294 or whatever it came out to be. I could measure my progress day by day, as demonstrated by the word meters I put up here once in a while. A very manageable process, once you get past the initial, "Holy cow, that's a lot of words."

But working on the final draft now, I feel like I'm confronted every day with this enormous behemoth of a novel, and it's hard to know where to attack it. I've been trying to handle it as a linear process like writing: Start on page 1, make edits according to the notes that my wife and my editor have given me, and carry on through to page 294 or whatever it turns out to be. But it doesn't really work like that. Much more than in the writing stage, I feel like I have to think about the novel as a whole. I need to think about the arc of the main character's development, and make sure that the change is happening at the right pace. I have to jump around within the document a lot more, sometimes moving chunks of text from one place to another, and occasionally leaving little "@@" marks in the text so I remember to go back and mess with stuff later. It's a much more challenging process. 

I don't remember In the Claws of the Tiger being like this. I feel like the linear revision process worked for that book—maybe because I had more time for the first draft, and I'd already gone through it once myself before I even sent it to the editor. 

Well, daunting or not, it has to get done. I know it has to get done, because I saw the book listed on Amazon. I'll keep you posted on how it's going.

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