Wednesday, January 04, 2012

My Fiction Day - The Pain in the Butt Reality of Getting Better

I'm diving into book two, updating it so that it's a more seamless flow from book one. We changed so many things in book one, now titled A Lowcountry Bribe, (release date in February) that some facts are wrong in the second book. No problem, right? I'm accustomed now to making edits, even major ones. But a critique partner brought something to my attention today that I hadn't realized . . . my writing is better now than it was when I wrote that book.

ARGH!!!

I'm not only inserting, deleting and reformatting characters and facts, but I'm rewording almost everything! Phrasing used before seems more amateur now. I'd crammed a lot of action in the opening chapter only to realize that I needed less action and better writing to make it an intriguing opening.

I spent years (a decade, really) writing A Lowcountry Bribe. I was developing characters and finding my voice. I now like my voice and adore my characters. I leaped right into book two with the same characters and a different setting (my books take place in different locales in South Carolina). The story smoked! Really! I love the plot better than book one, but that's just me. It could be the result of finding my stride, too, and have nothing to do with the storyline. But regardless, I was happy with it.

Anyway, I later wrote book three. My critique group said the writing was remarkably better. I was enjoying the process better, but I wasn't seeing the improvement they spoke of. I was still in love with book two, frankly. But now . . . now that I'm going back to seriously edit book two, I'm seeing the growth difference.

And it friggin' frustrates me. But . . . continual editing is what landed the agent and the book contract. It's part of what we do. And each change, each hard-thought-out alteration is another growing pain that makes us stronger.

So . . . I'll be here, continually doing FundsforWriters work in January and February, but just know that I'm deep in the trenches otherwise, reworking book two . . . because I now have the ability to make it better.

8 comments:

Sioux said...

Mired in mediocrity would have served you so much better, Hope.

A woman in my writing critique group, Linda O'Connell, has the same problem. She wrote a memoir a couple of decades ago. It's full of pee-your-pants stories, along with poignant ones. However, she was not as gifted a writer then as she is now. She--like you--is doing some major revising.

I look forward to reading your soon-to-be-published baby.

Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

How great to see the progress and have it confirmed by others. It's so hard to keep believing but following your heart and forgetting to feel sorry for yourself paid off.

Just handed off a third revision to my editorial agent who put me through a fantastic plot boot camp, so I can appreciate some of what you've gone through.

Lyn

Jessica McCann said...

Oh my, your book releases in February! That will be here before you know it. So excited for you! Also excited that you are seeing the growth in your writing that your critique group has seen. Yes, makes for more work, but what fun that when you finish the revisions, you'll be even more stoked about the story you love than you were the first time around. :)

Jeremiah Green said...

I would just like to say thank you for all that you do, publishing your writing experiences and of course the FFW newsletter. I especially appreciate that you let the readers know about the journey. Sometimes it sounds like you wanna pull your hair out, but in the end, we all know it will be worth it! I can't wait to read your novels.

Hope Clark said...

You guys are the best! Yes, I love sharing, but if I didn't, I think I'd explode. Thanks for being great shoulders and ears for me.

Janet Hartman said...

One of the reasons editing is my favorite part of the job is that is when I see what I've written get better. Your post made me laugh, though. You're frustrated because you have proof in your hands that your writing is improving? I think that is one from of frustration all writers would like to have!

Hope Clark said...

Janet

You made me laugh! I feel like a ditz now. I ought to be happy. Trouble is, I thought this book was ready. Felt darn good about it. OMG, I feel like some of my clients - when I've advised them to keep editing, because any work is worth one more time. *eyes rolling* Guess there is truth to "practice what you preach." Thanks for the reminder!

Sharon K Owen said...

Janet,
Your blog made me laugh but I can completely relate.

I published my first book in July and I've committed to getting the second book out this March. I'm doing a blog book tour and promoting my first book like crazy hoping the momentum will carry over to the second book.

Of course, I've got to FINISH the second. All the promoting is taking away from my writing time and ...

But I have faith it will all work out.

All digits crossed.

Sharon