It’s been a hard week of conflicting events in my life made a little worse by a flu that has drained me of energy for a few days. Today, though, I pick up the pen and continue with revisions.
If you’ve ever had a manuscript (MS) returned to you which has more red than black type, more squiggle lines than a snake on crack, and more POV (Point of View) slashes in the column than you can tolerate, then you know–you better know–that you have a long row to hoe. This has been the case for me in earlier drafts of my first manuscript. I’m not ashamed to tell you this, because at least I picked up the hoe. Now I can go two or three pages with any red type and just a couple of “POV” markings in a chapter. Sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but the hard stuff is yet to come. The preceding is just the ‘clean up’ work. I think I’m done with that for half of the MS. I’ll get to the other half when it’s returned to me.
The real work is in developing “intimacy.” You want readers to care about your characters and understand how they view the world. I’ve heard instructors say you have to be an actor and temporarily be the character in order to understand her/him. One of the best devices I’ve come across, to achieve this, is the character sketch. Here’s one from Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/upload/images/PDF/worksheets.pdf
There are several pages of worksheets to help you develop the characters. After you fill in the blanks you are more ready to ‘be’ the character and act out the scenes.
A shorter version of the character sketch is here:http://www.writersdigest.com/upload/images/PDF/30Days-Character-Sketch.pdf
I like this version because it is succinct and can easily be retrieved;everything is on 2 pages. You can whip it out of your folder (you are keeping a folder or binder to keep your notes in, right?-ok, a blog post for another time) and re-read the sketch to determine if the actions are true to character.
So this is where I’m at with the MS, in the throes of revision xx (I’m not telling you), with the goal of developing interior monologue to achieve a more intimate relationship between character and reader. I don’t really feel like tackling this right now, since the flu is still hanging on, but I think I’ve achieved something for myself and that is to write everyday and share information.
And now is a good time to get my folder out and organize it. When I pulled it out, for character sketch reference above, I found that I titled it “Book Notes.” Too general. So now I must go and dig up another folder for MS 1 and MS 2 or go hijack my kid’s old binders, but before that I need more diet 7up and flu tablets.