Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Baby Steps

I'm ready to take my first baby steps into the world of blogging. This is a whole new experience for me. Exciting, but a little scary.

I tell myself it could be something like keeping a journal, which I've done for over 30 thirty years. Journal writing was one of the habits I developed during a course I was taking in creative writing. I do not write in my journal every day. But it is where I return when I need to make sense of what's happening around me, in my personal life. It's where I record strange weather occurences and family events (these too can be pretty strange).

I see the blog being a place to record what's happening in my writing life.

For the past few weeks I've been polishing the new novel. I had thought it was finished, ready to be sent forth into the world. But each time I pick it up I begin tweaking again.

I have just read a great book, filled with useful tips on editing. It made me take another very critical look at the manuscript. The book is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King (Harper Collins, 1993). I highly recommend it.

I took copious notes while reading the book and have returned to my notes many times.

A few of the suggestions I read there were for converting some of the longer passages of narrative into scenes, eliminating speaker attributions--particularly in interior monologue, breaking up paragraphs, even looking at the white space on each page.

Some of the tips I've been using for years, such as reading the story aloud. I've always found this especially helpful when working with dialogue (my favourite part). Hearing the dialogue helps determine how realistic it is.

Naturally, I hope all this careful self-editing will make the manuscript more attractive to a publisher. Especially now that the time and the money to do extensive editing in-house is disappearing.

So, I keep tightening and polishing. But one of these days I have to step back and say, "Okay. That's all I can do. Now, fly!"

It's always hard to let go. Like driving away from the college residence in September, leaving your firstborn on the curb.

Write on.
Till next time,


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