Sunday, October 08, 2006

TOPIC: It's Squirrel Time

It's that time of the year again, here in the Northland.

The #*(@ squirrels are busy, salvaging nuts and burying them, scampering across the street in a death-defying manner because the spot under THAT tree OVER THERE is so much BETTER than the spot OVER HERE. Of course, they'll forget where they buried the food and in the spring I'll be digging up oak trees and chestnut trees galore.

It's uncanny how they know just WHEN a nut is ripe. We have a chestnut tree and it was laden with fruit. Then, one day, POOF -- no nuts. The squirrels had picked it clean.

How does this relate to writing?

Glad you asked.

I used to save scenes that I'd cut from books, thinking I might use them in another book. I discovered, though, that the characters in those scenes were so individual that re-tasking the scene for another character was a major headache. I've used some of the concepts of the scene, but not the wording, actions, etc.

What do you do with Lost Scenes? How do you organize your writing life? I used to keep a copy of each draft of a book, but now I just keep the original and then work on one copy, which becomes my finished draft. How many drafts does it take until you're satisfiied with your finished product? What does it take for you to realize that a scene just isn't working and has to be cut?

I do 3 drafts: first pass, where I get it all on paper (that's the copy I put in a special folder, and I consider that the Original one).

Second pass, where I check for consistency ('were his eyes blue in chapter 1 or green?').

Third pass, tweeking for the Usual Suspects (adverbs, conjunctions, and other slow-downers). Then I toss it out for review and tweek based on comments I get back. Then, it's done. I let it sit for at least 6 months then I come back and often tweek again.

What's your style of writing? How do you keep it organized? Do you remember where all the nuts are buried?

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