Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Revision one, two, three...

I've had a fairly steep learning curve as I began to formulate my novel. I bought books and searched for information on line about the craft of writing and story telling. A consistent theme was the need to revise and edit your writing.

I went overseas a couple of times over the summer and I dragged  my manuscript and laptop with me. This is when the learning really began. Initially, I thought my first draft was "all that". Boy was I ever wrong! As I began to read it over to make necessary changes, I felt like I was writing the book all over again. Whole chapters had to be removed and every chapter had lines of words that needed either elimination, change, repositioning...you name it and I had to do it. I found the focus of the book even changed.

It is true. The real writing of the book comes in the revision. Each time I read the manuscript, I found something to change,  make better etc. I learned I had to tighten the prose. I had to think carefully about the words I was using. Are those words adequately conveying the feel and emotions that the characters are experiencing? Then comes line editing! Trying to catch the typos, extra spaces between words, missing words...whoo hoo! It can get tedious and exhausting, but I found I actually kind of liked the line editing-that fine polishing was kind of fun. No matter how many times I read the draft, I always find something to change, correct, do better.

In essence, your first draft of any book is merely the beginning. You may end up with an entirely different book by the time you're done. Don't fight it or think you're doing something wrong. That's just the writing process. Go with it and be determined to produce your best work.

I attended a lecture today by Dr. Alan E. Kazdin, a renown professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University. As I said in my "Welcome" post, I'm a clinician and work with children. Dr. Kazdin mentioned among other things, some of the things that therapists need to do when working with children with Conduct Disorders. One of the things he said that blew me away as a writer and I quote:  "Explain less and show more." Oh my goodness-the same concept all writer's hear as a continual mantra-show, not tell!  Who knew how far reaching this concept really is! Awesome.

 I'll be touching on some techniques, parents can use with their children who are exhibiting problematic and aggressive behaviors in future posts. Stay tuned.


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