Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Using THE MARSHALL PLAN
Well, I finally got back into the thick of it! My "game plan" for editing (see TIPS & TRICKS posting) called for reviewing my notes and making decisions based on an overview of the story first, then diving in and doing the detailed editing work. Instead, I threw that idea out the window and just dived into the text. The reason was I had let it sit for two months to gain distance and needed to work with the text a little to "get back into it". Well, I'm back in the thick of things, again aware in detail of the underlying structural and plot issues of the entire story, and the questions I had as I finished the complete manuscript. So, I'm ready to pause and take a step back and look at the overall story and see if there are any significant decisions I want to make right now that will affect the rest of the editing work.
To help me in this, I'm using THE MARSHALL PLAN, an excellent book that describes how to plan, write and edit a novel. It's one of many such books I've referred to while working on THE REFLECTING STONE, and in the many years prior to this current novel. I like the way the author (Evan Marhsall) handles things in a matter-of-fact way, with a clear system, and a sense of purpose. Do this, then it prepares you to do the next thing. Anyone following my novel-writing exploits through this blog will know that is very much how I like to work. It's efficient, if nothing else. Being organized, having a plan and a process, and step-by-step tasks to complete, help me move forward with a focus on results.
I'm happy to be rethining the novel. It's not that what I wrote is seriously flawed -- it's certainly not -- but that the story will benefit from yet another run-through in the details of conception and execution. You can always take something and make it better. I know from my earlier work, now that I'm back "in the thick of it", what the key questions were, exactly what details of the plot I thought of changing, wondered if there might be a better way to sequence them, or to tie things together, etc. It's not "everything", just certain specific points that I had questions about. However, I am quickly going back through "everything" in my mind, step-by-step, as I read through THE MARSHALL PLAN. It's not to say, "Gee, I screwed this up," but to confirm "This is good, this is fine" and then "Aha! Here is something I meant to think about! Should it go this way, or that way?"
I expect to take only a short time for this reflection, which I've been working on over the past several days, and should finish up this week. The benefit is the story will be more focused (a lot of it already is, but a few scenes still need tightening) and subplots will be more fully tied together. I may then go back to the editing work directly, or take more time to review my notes in detail and plan more for the editing, depending on the complexity of the insights/changes as I rethink the story.
It feels nice to recognize myself as mentally "back in the thick of it", a place I like to be!