Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Monday, December 20, 2010

Busy with revisions

I have been busy working on the revisions of Book 2 in my series. It seems like this is the only kind of "book work" I have going on these days -- and that's actually a good thing. Being focused on just ONE book, even during the revision stage, has helped me to step back and take a closer look at the story as a whole.

Writing the first draft of this story, my goal was to get the story out of my head and onto paper. As I revise it, I'm looking closer at the dialogue, scene structure, and characterization. I'm reminded of things I must have in the final draft that weren't in the first draft, such as weather, what people are wearing, what things look like, how things are done, etc. But the big thing I have noticed about this story is the issue: Bullying. Two characters deal with school bullies, and one aspect of the first draft of the story turned out to be something I could use in a positive way to resolve the bullying problem. I have been doing research on that and exploring different scenarios in the story to figure out which one would work best as a resolution to that conflict.

Another thing I've noticed is family ties. In the first book, readers are introduced to the family members of my main characters. Because my main characters are children, their parents and siblings play a big role in their lives. I know they say that when you write stories for kids, grown-ups should not be in the story so much and, when they are, they act different than their expected roles. And the bulk of this story is the kids doing things without grown-ups swarming all over them. However, I believe that, as children, parents and siblings are a big part of their lives, so I have to remember to include things such as a brother making some comment or a sister heading out the door for piano lessons. All the same, family ties can be helpful to main characters, especially when it comes to those main characters dealing with major issues. A big brother can give advice or help out, after all. This is another important factor I have had to work on during the revision stage.

When writing the first draft, the story comes out in a rush. How I began each scene was not an issue; I just had to start the scene and get things moving. But during revision, I can step away from the pages and take the time to analyze how I began the scene. Is it the right scene opening? Does it get reader attention? Does it flow well from where the last scene left off? Writing the first draft happened in a rush of creativity; the revising of the first draft happens with a pause of reflection.

Finally, one other thing about the revising of this draft is that there may be a new chapter or two. The first chapter of the first draft was removed, but there may be a new chapter added during revision, because as I explore the issue further, I'm beginning to see what I can add to the story to make it even better and part of the puzzle pieces needed to resolve that issue.

This manuscript is not something I can take months or even years to revise. It actually needs to get wrapped up and sent in to my publisher ASAP. But I'm not going to rush through the revisions, as much as I might feel the need to. If I tried to hurry or force the revisions, it will make all my hard work for nothing. But if I take the time needed to work on these revisions, and just try to turn it into the best story I can in a reasonably short period of time, then at least I will be confident that the story is as close to perfection as I can make it. Of course, it will go through the editing rounds, and maybe something else will come up during that process, but I do want to try to use as much time as I can to make this story the best that I can. Rushing through the revisions won't allow for that to happen. At least it is the only book I have to focus on right now.

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