Monday, March 12, 2012

Approaching Draft Three

            I knew I wanted to come out of the week with a visual representation of the story, like a web, or the mobile discussed in prior posts.  It helps me hold the whole story in my head, and I suspected I’d see where things were out of balance and needed adjustment.  Even though I had out my big paper, I felt leery of making a mark.  What bothered me was I didn’t want to make a drawing of what Draft Two looked like –that felt like making a tedious record; I wanted to make a drawing of what Draft Three should look like.
            So I backed off of the drawing and did something I always do when I start to study a young adult novel.  I made a chapter outline.  I noted the chapter and then just jotted down the major events.  Whereas this is sometime a tedious way to begin the study of a young adult novel, I’d never done it for my own novel, and it was kind of amazing to see what it revealed.  In four typed pages I had the whole thing in front of me, and I could see right off why my readers kept saying the relationship between the two main characters moved too quickly –almost all the scenes where their relationship develops where stuck in Chapter Three!  Did I do that?  Apparently.  So I got out my trusty notecards, jotted down the scenes of the relationship’s progression and started sorting.  I learned the second half of the book was fine; I just needed to focus on the first half.  I got away from the demands of plot and theme and just let myself be with those two kids and how they would see each other.  (In the book I just read called Dark Water, Laura MacNeil does a fantastic job of parsing out the development of the main characters' relationship.)  Then I went back to see if I could insert the new relationship progression into the Chapter Outline, and it fell in place pretty easily!  I had to make a few adjustments for plot logistics, but this revealed that switching the focus of Chapter Three and Four would help and give more space where things were crowded before.  I was grooving on this success!
            Then I drew a picture of how Draft Three should look:
In designing this web or mobile, I was interested not only in mentally holding onto the big picture, but also examining the cause-effect drive from event to event and section to section.  I realized that back during Draft Two revisions I had organized things thematically, and that helped me in the right direction.  But now the connective tissue or the wires that hold the parts of my mobile together needed to be of cause and effect, problem and solution.  I need be able to draw the wire that connects section one to section two and write along that wire the question in the character’s / reader’s mind that is driving him to turn the page.  I also realized that I didn’t want to impose questions like that onto my drawing and write to them.  I want to go back into the scene, where the magic happens, and, aware of where I am in the structure, be present with the characters and hyper-aware of the questions that are driving them forward.  I think I can do this best back in the scenes, in the writing.  I think it will be most organic.  And I’m excited about the balance between having a visual grip on my structure and trusting the discovery of the words coming down on the page where the magic happens!
             While we're talking about revision, I HAVE to pass on to you the following fabulous discoveries.  Check out the following links where YA authors dissect their drafts!
And don't miss my favorite, added later by Gayle Forman:

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