Sunday, September 23, 2007

August 18, 2007—Taking some “time away”

I’m coming to the realization that I might have to take some time away from the rewrite process. However, I think it will only be a partial separation.

When I finished the first draft, the first piece of advice from my friend Tim Parrish was to take a few months off from it and then re-read it, and I said “no way.” I’m too interested in it and I didn’t feel like I needed perspective in order to understand what was wrong with it.

He also asked me challenging questions about how well developed the characters were and I felt pretty confident about that at the time.

After typing in and re-reading Part 2 of the book over the last couple of days, I now see there are some pretty big problems with the sense of the plot and the behavior of the characters and that these things boil down to not really fully understanding the characters yet.

For example, a typical problematic scene has my character witnessing and experiencing something dramatic without really feeling much about it and not responding with much feeling, or responding in the “default” position I had him in at the start of the book.

I need to look at those scenes individually—a lot of them—but really I need to think about what the arc of emotional development is for the characters and how their development intertwines and pushes the development of others. It’s how they generate plot for one another and respond to the plot individually.

Another way of putting it is that I now have a much more realistic assessment of my draft. It’s a draft—not a miracle.

The combination of my life circumstances, which I’ll talk post about some other time, and the sense that a little bit of distance will bring those technical problems into better relief is now making me think I should take a little bit of time away.

But not much. I still intend to work on relevant stuff every day—what you might call “tool sharpening”—and in any case not to take more than a couple weeks. It’s really just putting the manuscript aside. And I hope to get back to it by Labor Day.

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