Workshops 3 & 4 – Year of the Edit
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted and my last post was essentially an apology for not posting! Life is still a little crazy around here so I’m not getting to blog – or write, for that matter – as much as I would like. I know it’s long overdue, but I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in my two Year of the Edit workshops over the past two months, both of which have been simply amazing.
The workshop in May dealt with the importance of secondary characters to the success of a novel. I’m fortunate in that I only have a small cast of people so identifying my secondary characters wasn’t difficult. My homework was to spend some time thinking about the motivation of each of the supporting cast and how I might bring that out in my manuscript. It was quite powerful and I had a number of epiphanies along the way, like discovering I could pit a husband and wife against each other quite naturally and raise the tension for everyone. I busily rewrote some sections and tweaked bits and pieces in my manuscript to ensure my secondary characters were just as rounded and ‘real’ as my main characters and my novel is so much better because of it.
The second part of my homework was to go on a cliche hunt. Cliches are about as exciting as watching paint dry. (See? Your eyes glazed over just then, I saw it.) I knew my manuscript would be littered with them but I must say that when I was faced with reading my whole book through again, I felt a little despondent. So, I tried something new. Instead of reading from Chapter 1 to Chapter 43, I started reading at Chapter 43. It was actually a fantastic exercise as I got to see how my logic worked in reverse. Although I know what’s coming when I read sequentially, reading backwards by chapter made me take a fresh look at my work. I managed not only to weed out a lot of those pesky cliches, but I also did a major copy-edit on the way through. I figured I may as well make the best use of all that effort!
Of all the activities I have completed so far, this cliche hunt was by far the one that made the biggest difference to my novel. All of a sudden I can see the bright light of ‘The End’ looming ahead. My novel in its current state simply can’t be compared to what it was back in February. The difference is astounding and mind-blowing and so very exciting. I finally feel like my novel is metamorphising from a manuscript into a book before my very eyes. And the best thing is, I still love it!
Workshop 4 focussed on something I know I’m bad at: setting. I think I’m vague on the details in my own mind so I tend to not be very specific when I’m describing setting in my work. I’m aware that it’s a weakness so this month I’ve got some major work to do, but I have every confidence that I can do the hard work and improve my novel yet again. I’ve got until mid-July to get this done so I need to get a wriggle on…
The other aspect of my homework is to look at my dialogue. Once again, I’m not sure this is a strength of mine. In fact, I’m a little concerned that my two main characters sound too much alike. I’m going to have to look long and hard at their dialogue and see how I can I can separate them a little more.
So there you have it. I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I am still writing but I have been woefully bad at keeping up with my blog. I’m hoping to do better in the next little while, although I’m now 15 weeks pregnant and this baby will be here before I know it! In the meantime, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy.
Happy writing! xx