The Difference Between Revising and Rewriting

OK, not sure how this will pan out, but here goes. 

The difference between revising and rewriting is the same as the difference between dreaming and doing.  In other words, revising is where you think about how your first draft fits with what you saw/felt/heard in your head.   You make notes to yourself on where your draft leaves you flat, or your characters aren’t sounding right, or where you see a redirection is needed.  It involves big plans and aiming high.

Rewriting is putting your money where your mouth is, so to speak.  It’s when you have to sit down and wrestle with your characters and plot until hopefully you bring things together better than they were before.   It’s getting down and dirty in the detail, up to your elbows in scenes and sentences.  You come up for air, blinking and gasping, and then plunge back in again.

What I don’t know yet, is how much of the revising makes it into the rewriting.  Stay tuned!

I’m struggling with voice!

A couple of posts back, I blogged about voice, and now I’m struggling with the voice of my own work!  Don’t you just hate that?

I’m not exactly sure what the problem is, except that despite point of view changes, the narration all sounds the same.  It’s also choppy and lacks depth. 

Until yesterday, I had no idea what to do about it, but while drifting off to sleep last night I had an ‘a ha!’.  I’ve decided that when writing the second draft, I’m going to work with one point of view first from the beginning of their narration to the end before moving on to another point of view.  Now that I’ve got the story down, I don’t need to keep things like timelines in mind and I don’t have to write in order. 

Working on one point of view will help me to develop that character’s voice and to deepen the narration until it flows.  How do I know it’ll work?  I don’t, but when I thought of it I got that buzz in your belly that tells you you’re on the right track. 

Fingers crossed!

Lessons From Art

Yesterday, I picked up a paintbrush for the first time in over a year.  Not a housepainting brush – way to handyperson for me!  I’ve started oil painting.

This is a totally new area for me.  The medium I’m most comfortable with is pastels, and in recent years I’ve tried acrylic paints.  To celebrate being able to get back to painting, I decided to challenge myself. 

And boy, is it a challenge!  I’m not sure if it’s the medium or if it’s the fact the teacher has a totally different approach to painting to me, but I felt like I was struggling in class.  It seemed that when we were supposed to be taking our time, I was rushing ahead.  When we were supposed to be blocking in, I was getting captivated by brushstrokes.  When we were supposed to be painting in detail, I was blocking in movement.  Everything felt wrong, and I very nearly concluded that I hated oil paints as much as I do watercolour (another story – don’t get me started!).

I wasn’t quite ready to give up, though, and when I got home I propped the painting up somewhere I would see it often.  And you know, despite all of the things wrong with it, I can see the energy in my painting.  I can see the depth in the shadows contrasting with areas that will be lighter when it’s finished.  Not all of the colour is there yet, but I can see that when it is, there’ll be a lot of movement and expressiveness in it, some essence of my style despite this medium being so foreign.  The bare bones are there, even though I didn’t know at the time that was what I was laying down.  In other words, when I stopped thinking about what I should be doing, I started to see strengths I could build on and ways I could fix the weaknesses.

So what has this got to do with writing?  It can be summed up like this:

  • learn your craft
  • practice often
  • try something new
  • don’t give up and don’t throw anything away
  • and above all, forget what you’re supposed to be doing and let the artist in you take over