My goal this November was to complete Julius, but I have fallen short. I planned to plow through my sagging middle but as I began to write, I realized I reached an important juncture in the story that needed less pantsing, but more planning. Thus, November has been spent refining plot and character motivation.
I’m not disappointed with what I’ve accomplished so far because I believe the story will be stronger, but I’ve noticed I have few chapters that are like fish out of water flopping about and gasping for air. I usually try to salvage these, but this time I’m saying adieu. They no longer work for this version of the story.
When I’m not writing, I’m honing my editing skills. I’m currently reading Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon and The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself by Susan Bell.
On page three of chapter one of Manuscript Makeover, Lyon recommends that during the revision process writers should cultivate deep listening skills. Reading your story silently to yourself isn’t enough. Read it aloud—slowly and carefully—and you’ll catch all the clunky sentence structures, catch typos, repetition and graceless transitions. By reading in a straightforward fashion, you’ll be developing an ear for deep listening. I used the deep listening method when revising the two sequences of part one of Julius. I not only caught typos, but an inconsistent voice when writing from my MC’s point of view.
I purchased The Artful Edit because I was interested in the case study of how Max Perkins and F. Scott Fitzgerald worked together to refine The Great Gatsby. Any insight to what turned that into a 20th century classic is definitely worth studying.
Both Lyon and Bell provide checklists at the end of each chapter so that you can review as well as practice exercises. I admit I’m impatient and want to finish the book, but I know it’s in my best interest to do the exercises and pinpoint and correct all the potential problems that I may have missed.
I figure now that I’ve gone this far, I can extend it for another few months until I begin to query agents.