Saturday, May 1, 2010

Novel Revision Retreat

So I am literally currently sitting in the main room at Stonefly Lodge in Ashton, ID.  The wall-length and -width windows look directly over the Snake River with a farm on the opposite bank.  The drizzly, gray sky mutes the small copses of trees scattered on the land.

And I have yet to step outside.

I am participating in a retreat presented by Darcy Pattison all about revising novels (which is why I haven't posted because I was frantically getting ready for this).  Some things have been good, and some things have been not as good, but nothing has been bad.  We are having a break right now, and boy do I need it!  My brain hurts.

Darcy is a visual learner, and so she has come up with a variety of techniques for revision that map things visually.  One thing I really like is her shrunken manuscript technique.  She (We/You) shrinks the manuscript down to 30 pages (I had to go 5-pt font to get it to fit).  Then you can highlight based upon various things in order to see the flow of the story.

I am planning to go home and highlight my plot arc, and emotional arc. I know in particular that my emotional-character arc is in dire need of some clarification and revision.  As I go through and highlight the instances my character tries (and fails) to resolve her initial emotional need, then lay all the pages out, I will see where I am strong in her development, and stagnant in her development. 

With the plot arc, I'll highlight the indirect, direct, and final "battle" scene between my protagonist and antagonist.  Then when I lay it out and find pages of no highlights, I'll recognize a place where my story lags.

Another technique that I want to apply after another revision or two (when my big-picture plot and character problems are resolved) is that of sensory details.  Darcy had us read a scene to re-familiarize it, then set the manuscript aside.  We tried to visualize the scene in our minds, then list at least three different things from that scene in each sense (visual, hearing, scent, kinesthetic, taste).  Then re-write the scene afresh implementing those senses.  I know I need more "action" and "grounding" in my dialog scenes for sure, and I bet I'll find other places that need it too.

Anyway, these are just a couple of techniques I am going to try.  But I am still trying to process everything we have talked about (and we're only halfway done).  So my brain hurts.  You can learn what I'm doing by completing Darcy's book Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise.  The visualization techniques are eye-opening (wink, wink).