August 24, 2012

It's Getting Better All The Time

The storyline that I'm currently revising (which, yes, is the third and final one, meaning that someday I'll actually be done with this revision pass) had some problems in the previous draft, obviously. I had planned out the changes I wanted to make, and I'm working on executing that plan.

What's amazed me since starting this storyline is just how many small and yet hugely significant improvements to the plan have surfaced in the process of writing. I've been injecting a lot of extra conflict into scenes, for example, and that seems to be working, because it's pretty much always more interesting when a story has more conflict, right?

The narrator of this storyline is the one I understood the least well, and readers of the previous draft had the most issues with him. I was intending to make him more likable, though I wasn't sure I could succeed. Instead, I think I'm making him less likable, but more interesting, and I hope that means readers will be eager to read about him even if they can't sympathize with the things he does. And I'm getting a much better handle on what makes him tick.

I could attribute this flood of brilliant ideas to various factors, but an important one is that I've now been writing for longer than I had when I started the previous storyline. Or the one before. The further I get through this revision, the more experienced I become as a writer. That's pretty cool.

That also creates a bit of an issue, which attentive readers may have already spotted. The chapters I revised at the beginning of this process are inevitably not going to be anywhere near as good as the last ones I work on. Yeah, I know. I've always known that problem would exist, and there's no real way around it.

I'll deal with that later. For now, I'm going to continue being pleased by how good this novel is getting.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ At The Millions, Edan Lepucki offers advice on handling transitions in a story: "It's often these micro-level mechanics that slow a writer down, make her feel like she's oiling the rusty joints of robots rather than conjuring and exploring the lives of real people with meaningful problems."


Christopher Gronlund said...

Glad things are moving along with this draft! And...hopefully you'll still find things in those early chapters that have a certain spark to them. They may not be as well written as later chapters, but I've always found that early chapters contain that excitement of a new project. Polish them so they hold up with the rest of the book, and there's something extra cool in the potential of it all.

mamagotcha said...

I've fallen into Breaking Bad, and the whole concept of the unlikeable protagonist fascinates and slightly bewilders me. I'm very curious to see what your take on the idea is.

Lisa Eckstein said...

Christopher: Thanks. Yeah, I've looked back at the earlier chapters enough to know that they still have a lot going for them, so I'm not despairing over this. They'll need some work, but I'm confident I can even things out.

Gotcha: Now that Breaking Bad is back on, and the main character has become even more unlikable this season, I have definitely been thinking about how to work all that from a writing perspective. There's a lot of impressive writing on that show!

Henri Picciotto said...

As I may have mentioned in a previous comment, I was not comfortable with the idea that the narrator had to be likable. Bad can be interesting! (Nabokov of course is an expert at that.)

Lisa Eckstein said...

Henri: I've been giving more thought to the kinds of characters that I can dislike but still want to read about, versus those who make me want to put the book down. Nabokov's Humbert Humbert is an excellent example of doing unlikable well.

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