Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Writing Tip Wednesday #2

It's time for Writing Tip Wednesday!

I'm kind of sick of my novel. It's so long and it doesn't go anywhere. Haha, I'm having a grumpy writing day. So I thought I'd focus on revising one of my short stories. They don't go anywhere either but at least it's short! So with that in mind I went to the library to check out some books that could help me with my revision.

I think revision is very tough and I'm not very good at it. I always feel frustrated during the revision process. I feel frustrated during the writing process more than I feel like, heck yeah, I rock at this. Still, I want to do it all the time. It's so confusing.

So I picked up this book called Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon. Let's look at what she had to say about the inner critique that I hear all the time.

(From pg. 9)

In the writer's internal universe, inner censors are parallel bad guys to inner critics. They are more insidious because they often live in the subconscious, although their development is a necessary stage of the socializing process of children through adulthood. Nobody brings his imaginary friend to the first day of college, for instance. [...]

Inner censors interfere with effective revision in a number of ways. For instance, most fiction writers act like protective parents toward their characters, especially the hero and his or her friends. Writers are too nice. You not only don't have to treat your characters nicely, but in revision you should look for ways to make the obstacles bigger, the complications seemingly endless, and their suffering worse. Avoid the temptation to rescue your characters. Instead of showing your hero running out of the rain into the shelter of a nearby building, make it a downpour with wind and hail and no way to quickly escape. Instead of another character being miffed at your hero, let him yell and cry and threaten-- or shove, push, beat or wound. A canon of good writing is never write away from a good fight. The inner censor would send you to reform school. But as a creative writer, you need full literary license to create suspense, which sprigns from conflict. Your one obligation is to be authentic to your characters and story.

Another manisfestation of the inner censor is drawing a blank.Perhaps you've been told that your story needs more development of setting, description, emotions, or characterization in general. Yet, when you reread your writing with the intent to revise, you can't get past the big stifling nada-- nothing comes to mind. Your tabula rasa blank screen stares back. For whatever reasons, you imagination is restricted, you must kick the inner censors where it hurts, and liberate your creativity. You have to figure out how to not draw a blank when you do indeed draw one.

I don't know if this is all advice, per se, but these are real feelings that I have experienced. Especially the one where you go to revise and you just stare at it like what the hell am I supposed to do? I think that's why I don't do it. Those inner censors, they can really wreak havoc on your writing life, can't they? I like how Elizabeth Lyon describes all of this, like she's reaching into my mind. Are these feelings really that common? So how does anyone ever overcome them and create a masterpeice that wins a Michael Printz award?

I guess you just have to let go, let go of yourself and your inner critic like Matt Giraud always did on stage and the thing that Anoop Desai never quite acheived after Beat It. (I think I'm gonna make American Idol comparisons all the time now.) But it seems like the inner censor is so ingrained inside of you, following you with every letter that you type. Even now I hear it in my head, "aren't you being a bit melodramtic right now in your blog?" Well, it's my blog and I'll write what I want to!

Maybe that's the first step to silencing it. I must confront it.

But how do you know when it's really good? Does your inner censor stand up and give you a simple standing O like Simon did after Adam Lambert sang Mad World? I don't know what that feels like because it's never happened for me. I haven't felt completely finished with anything.

What I can definitely take away from that passage is that you have to be daring and push yourself and push your characters too. Oh yes, you want to be easy on them. But the best books are never easy.

Reading that and typing that gave me a lot to think about. The good thing is that I did manage to get something going with the novel tonight so I don't hate it anymore. I like it again. We're good.

Do you have any revision thoughts? Post them below!

No comments:

Post a Comment