Saturday, January 16, 2010

Now We Are Four ... and Forty Behind.

The holidays passed at our house without any Christmas kittens or stockings meowing by the chimney. Then January brought birthday butterfly ballerina cupcakes. Like the "dark moment" of the heroine's journey, bad things happened to those ballerinas, namely, the four-year olds celebrating with Miss Bossy Boots.
The cupcakes* to celebrate Miss Bossy Boots' big day started off fabulously arranged, as many parts of life do, and ended up resembling the current version of Chapter 19 in The Soldier. As part of the Cherry Adair "Finish the Damn Book" Challenge, I scheduled myself to spit-shine fifty pages a week so I can start my new 2010 book in February. Last week I spun pages 199 - 210 over and over without progress. Saturday I took a printed version with me to Summit Central at Snoqualmie Pass. After sending Big Boy and Miss Bossy Boots off with their teeny-tiny skis and instructors, I sat down and lined up my pages on a long table in the lodge. I could see the whole thing, and it is indeed ugly.

I only managed part of Chapter 19 before retrieving Miss Boots from her lesson, which is barely longer than her skis. Here is a photo of my edited pages (taken at home, not at the lodge).

Revisions. Fixing. Fine-tuning. No matter what I call it, it feels like it takes more time to polish ten pages than to write them.

Can you make out the yellow highlights? I mark the first sentence of each scene to figure out if it reads like a rock dropped on the reader's foot or a smooth transition. I ask myself if the first sentence or two answers the questions: 1) whose point of view? 2) time of day and time elapsed, if any, since previous scene? 3) place or setting? Because I want to jump in to what I see happening, those two sentences are hard for me to craft. I also highlight the last word of each paragraph and look at them, and only them, on the page. Each one should be interesting enough to make the reader jump to the next paragraph. On one page I had: nicotine, van, attention, soon, organizations and watch. I immediately eliminated the boring word soon as a paragraph ending. Organizations - dull - will have to change but I believe nicotine, van and attention are keepers.

Unfortunately I didn't finish last week's fifty pages of revisions and darned if I don't have another fifty scheduled this week. I called this post "forty (pages) behind" but it feels like ninety right now. By the end of Monday I will finish revising Chapter 19! I'm committed because I want to start the next book but I can't until The Soldier is a lot shinier. I could use motivation (or cupcake stories) as I check back in with the blog.

* Cupcakes courtesy of the household birthday baker, "Mr. Richland."

1 comment:

Ann Charles said...

I love those cupcakes, Anna! Oh man, that's a lot of edits on the page. :)

Ann Charles