Extreme Makeover

I’m nearly finished with a first draft of Snowfall at Willow Lake. The thing is a complete mess–but I love it. I love Sophie and Noah and their chemistry and their conflict. I love the way the plot unspools in this story of redemption. This story has good bones–a sturdy plotline, strong characters, an appealing milieu. But I’m looking at it and thinking, oy. Do you ever need a makeover. And not just a cosmetic surface buffing. This will have to be gutted, taken apart, reconstructed and polished.
chair - before
Today my chair came back from being reupholstered. Initially, the thing was a $5 Rotary Auction treasure that I brought home because there was something about it that I liked–the lines. The bone structure. Still, to be honest, it was not a thing of beauty. It was frayed and sagging and badly in need of a makeover.
chair - after
It was a lot of work. But worth the effort.
For me, “revision” is a literal act. I reimagine the story, even if it means dismantling it from the ground up. I think every writer has a horror of deleting and discarding changes. One way I get myself over it is by reminding myself that even the deletions have their purpose. The text that was cut had its uses at one time. It was written for a reason and led me somewhere. There, isn’t that soothing?
Elie Wiesel said, “Writing is not like painting where you add. It is not what you put on the canvas that the reader sees.  Writing is more like a sculpture where you remove, you eliminate in order to make the work visible. Even those pages you remove somehow remain.”

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0 Responses

  1. That’s a great discussion and what a good term for this. Orphan Scenes. Getting me to give one up is like prying a snail from a rock. Thanks for sharing.

  2. That’s a great discussion and what a good term for this. Orphan Scenes. Getting me to give one up is like prying a snail from a rock. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Susan,

    Have you ever thought of your writing as the building up
    of layers and then having to peel away the layers ever so
    gently to discover the deeper and most inner thoughts and
    feelings of the charcters you created.

    Just like having your chair reupholstered, nothing is ever
    wasted when your writing. It is just is used in a different
    time and place and given a new life.

  4. Susan,
    Have you ever thought of your writing as the building up
    of layers and then having to peel away the layers ever so
    gently to discover the deeper and most inner thoughts and
    feelings of the charcters you created.
    Just like having your chair reupholstered, nothing is ever
    wasted when your writing. It is just is used in a different
    time and place and given a new life.

  5. Can’t wait for your book renovating to be done!

    And your chair looks fantastic. I’m envious of the cool retro fabric you found. I recently bought a retro chair from our thrift store for $5 and plan to recover, as you did (as part of an entire house remodel! Whew!)

    looking forward to the next installment on Avalon.

  6. Can’t wait for your book renovating to be done!
    And your chair looks fantastic. I’m envious of the cool retro fabric you found. I recently bought a retro chair from our thrift store for $5 and plan to recover, as you did (as part of an entire house remodel! Whew!)
    looking forward to the next installment on Avalon.

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