Monday, December 5, 2011

On Revisions

I was convinced my story started at the right point. I was dropping my character off in the drama. I was writing everything that needed to happen to propel the story forward. This was it...

Only it wasn't.

I learned two valuable lessons recently. 1) Most writers don't start their stories at the right moment, and 2) sometimes we need to write scenes even if they never make "the cut."

I had an opening scene that helped explain to me the order of events. I thought this would make readers really feel for my character. I was wrong. As the author, I already know my character so, of course, when something tragic happens I'm emotionally invested. The reader, however, doesn't know my character at the start of the book. They're still giving him an audition. They can't possibly feel true emotions because they're not familiar with anyone in the storyline yet. The answer? I needed to start my story later. What I had wasn't quite working.

Finding where to start isn't an easy thing but, rather, a delicate balance. How do you start late enough that the readers don't feel they've missed anything yet not too early that it all sounds like prologue? It's tricky.

While that scene wasn't right for the beginning of my story, it was right for me as an author. I had to write my initial opening scene. It allowed me to understand everything my character had been through leading up to the beginning of the story. This was important background information. It ensured I had a thorough knowledge of my MC, and it helped me to find that right balance. My old opening didn't make the final version but it helped my outlook.

So don't feel discouraged if in your revising stage you're hitting the delete button. Sometimes those words aren't meant to be there but were important exercises all the same.

What writing tips have you learned lately?

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