It’s such a funny thing, to know something and then for it to happen when you’re not thinking of it. I’m re-reading SB for the revisions it needs, and as I was reading a paragraph, I was struck by how much I wasn’t seeing or hearing or smelling in this particular scene. I was describing an old paper mill that had been turned into a plastics manufacturing plant when I stopped reading. I thought, how am I not smelling that plastic? My character sees the building, is about to walk up the steps of it, and still hasn’t described how that plastic smell hits him. Then I heard, not the words of my peer critique group members or conference presenters, but MY own voice telling my students, “show, don’t tell.” So, I paused on my read through, and that paragraph was reworked to, indeed, show what was happening to my character and not tell it.
I read through the first five chapters this week, which means I’ve got thirty more to go to finish a complete read through. I’m going to push to finish this read through before the first of the year, because this is the lightest of the revising to be done. The next story is the one that was not finished, the one that fought me every time I picked it up, the one that I finally let go. I know it’s time to finish it, and I know it’s the one to do next. It came back at me when I was doing Nanowrimo this year. I was struggling to figure out the name of one of my characters and the name of a character from this manuscript that I had set aside kept popping up in my mind. I actually called the character in the Nanowrimo novel by that name for a while, even saying it out loud during a joint writing session, but as I was saying it and writing, I realized it was wrong. It was almost as if trying to force him into a different story solidified how he was going to be in his own story, and when that clicked into place it made other parts of the story clear.
I also created a traveling plot board and it’s different than what I’ve done so far. I really want to play with and dive deeper into the structuring of stories as I revise and write because I know it will be vital to streamlining my process and in creating more intricate stories. In that spirit, I laminated printouts about story structure and beat sheets onto my traveling plot board. It creates an easy visual reference right where I’ll be plotting the stories. It’s calling at me, nagging me to start plotting out the story I’ll work on next, but I’m going to complete the read through of SB first. That’ll keep me busy until the end of the year. For sure. It’s in my ‘mobile office’, which is a lovely, oversized collapsible tote that I can bring with me from place to place to work from anywhere. That’s the work for the last of 2019. Read, revise, and continue to query SB.
What projects are you working on to finish out 2019? Is there a project that is calling to you or a project you’ve got on the back burner that you know you’re going to tackle in 2020?