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Friday, October 8, 2010

AFDOC 30: Risk Taking

One of the big surprises to my revision process was the decision to take more risks in structuring my book. For the past year I have focused on seeking out first time novelists and looking at what and why a publisher chose to print their work. Over and over again I found that taking calculated risks with the work seemed to make the difference. So as I carefully revised from front to back with a close eye to my throughlines and overall plot, I decided tothrow caution to the wind {not hurricane strength you understand}. I’ve reinstated original ideas and added ideas I’ve tossed around for a long time. I had avoided these with the thought that as a first time novelist I needed to follow a traditional structure to give me a fighting chance at publication.

Now, first I have to tell you that my critique group has only seen a bit and a piece here and there of these changes and not all met them with the excitement I felt, but I have forged ahead because the changes feel right and accomplish many of my goals in telling the story.

AFDOC now sports more than one point of view {first person present and omniscient past} and a series of letters that help me build suspense, foreshadow the drama, deliver backstory, and motivate my protagonist to step on the other side of childhood. I love the deliciously, intimate information that personal letters {in other books both fiction and non-fiction} share—a voyeuristic glance into character’s thoughts and feelings—and wanted to engage that closeness. While the book is full of drama and humor, it is truly a character study of several people.

So many of the books on the creative process of writing that I’ve revisited recently reminded me that an author doesn’t truly know their own book until they have finished it and started a complete revision process to polish it. While that idea at first blush seems absurd, I can tell you it is an idea I fully embrace.
Write to get it Right! Mahala


  1. I've been reading an autobiographical book by Madelein L'engle, A Circle of Quiet, and thought you would find this quote helpful: "Creativity is an act of discovering." and, "A writer may be self-conscious about his work before and after but not during the writing. If I am self-conscious during the actual writing of a scene, then it ends in the round file." I think your decision to go with your instincts and the pleasure this has given you in the finished manuscript is probably an example of exactly what she meant. Although she died three years ago at the age of 88, her words are just as valid now as when she wrote them in 1972. Happy writing, Rebecca

  2. Thanks,Rebecca. Confirmation is good for the soul. Mahala


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