I’ve been rereading The Lost recently. I’m working on a completely different project, one that requires a bit of planning, so I’m only writing a chapter or so a day. In my spare time, I’m playing with The Lost and figuring out how to rearrange it. I have a massive revision in mind, one involving structure, not story.
It’s fun to read it again after so much time away. It’s impossible not to compare it with Wren. They cover some of the same territory, but from such different angles, and with very different POV characters.
Wren lives in a world of near constant mental stimulation. Isis doesn’t, not in the same way. Isis feels her way through the world, literally. She’s very tactile. She’s also frightened of people, of touch, which leaves her at odds with her nature. It’s a fun friction to work with in a story. One of my favorite scenes involves just the brushing of pinkies across a table.
That friction…I couldn’t have explained it when I was writing it. I approach things a little more clinically now than I did then, but I still tend to feel my way through a story. Afterward, that’s when I identify those necessary threads and figure out how to pull them taut. Until then I try to sit in the character’s skin the same way I sit in my own. Efficient? No. Messy? Yes. Surprising? Almost always.
I should be finished with my latest pass through Wren later today. Everything is finally in the right place, more or less. It was a great shaggy mass of a story to work, kind of like oatmeal bread dough, wet and sticky and hard to shape. The good news is that it now looks and reads more or less the way it should.
My difficulty in working on Wren had everything to do with my process, and what happens when I don’t follow it. I wrote The Lost in the space of a couple months. I wrote its unnamed successor in a similar time frame. Working like that means the story is constantly in my head, and I sort through plot details on a daily basis, making changes as I go.
I wrote Wren off and on over eighteen months. Too many breaks, too much time in which to lose plot and character threads. It’s been an adventure sorting it all out.
Were my process different, were I someone who started with a detailed outline, for example, it likely would have been a different experience. But minds work in their own ways. Mine does better working out details as I write, rather than plotting it out in advance. Same process, whether with novels, short stories, or, long ago, college papers. The act of writing allows my mind to make connections that would be a struggle otherwise.
Anyway, one or two more revision passes and Wren will be done!
What then? I wrote a short story this weekend. I have a handful more waiting for my time. I have the short story that will not die waiting for me to take it out and despair over it again. And with Wren complete, it will be time to revise The Lost (the stories overlap), something I’m eager to do.
Today I demonstrate the all-around cleverness of the internet by appearing both here and elsewhere. If you’d like to read what I have to say about reading, please head over to Mera’s YA Book List for my guest post. You can also find guest posts by lots of other Euterpe authors there, as well as far more fun than there is to be had here. Also, open comments!
In other news, I am revising. It is slow. It makes me cranky. There is nothing more to be said about it.
Comments are open here too. Talk to me about revisions or how your summer has been. Distract me. I’ll be quite appreciative.