Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writing A Novel - Now I Understand

Until recently, the thought of seeing the deleted scenes from a finished movie meant only one thing to me: lots of laughs! I would look to these clips for the bloopers, the pranks, the sneak peeks of the actors I admired behaving out of character and maybe, just maybe, a little more like themselves. It was with this expectation that I entered into viewing the deleted scenes of The Muppets about a month ago. I was not ready for the incredible writer's "A-Ha! Moment" I would receive from watching all that did not make it into one of my favorite movies of 2011.

It goes without saying that many of the scenes were funny and that some were bloopers (human and muppet alike!), however, having sat through every single scene on the "Play All" feature right after watching the full length film, I was surprised by how many of the scenes had nothing to do with the movie at all! Let me rephrase that, they could have had something to do with the movie, but not the way it turned out. These scenes were not just cut from the film, their omission either resulted in, or from, a major rewrite of the script.


I know, I know, you're reading this and saying, "Duh, Nicole! What's the big deal?!"

The big deal is that it was that Muppet moment, for some reason, that my rose-tinted glasses were finally smashed. Slowly some thoughts crept into the corners of my mind,  
When Jason Segel and Nick Stoller wrote "The Muppets," they didn't think it was perfect, was the first thought...

Then slowly (sometimes I'm a bit dense...), They must've looked at it and thought that the only way it could be fixed was if they rewrote pieces...

And then here's where the BIG connect comes in, I bet if I rewrite pieces of my novel I can fix it!
Having read Stephen King, Anne Lamott and Marion Roach Smith's books on writing since finishing my first draft, as well as being a part of writing communities and chatting it up with numerous new writing friends, this is a fact I knew, but (I can now see) did not understand. There is an enormous gap between knowing something and understanding something; I am incredibly grateful that I have finally bridged it.

Here is what I understand: 
  • I understand that it is not my weakness as a writer or my amateur status in this role that accounts for the state my novel is in; it is the fact that it has not been cared for since first being splashed on the page.
  • I understand that getting the story out is only part of the work and that the other part, the editing part, is much more than correcting typos, spelling, grammar and fluidity of sentences.
  • I understand that I will have to "kill my darlings" even though there is no death scene in my novel, nor shall there be cause for one.
  • I understand that writing is an art, in the same way my teaching was: a beautiful, fun effortless-looking output from countless unspoken sleepless nights spent researching, creating, rewriting, perfecting but filled with giddy excitement every step of the way.
  • I understand that I am new to this, that I am learning, but I can do this.
I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead. While I've been extra sick as of late (thank you very much stealthy kidney stone no one asked for!), I am hoping the worst of it is behind me and that I can bumble back to my sloth-like existence of pseudo-healthy (two chronic diseases I can handle!) and truly hit the books. I'm taking part in a Savvy Authors online workshop on constructive criticism that I hope will help me in my own writing as well as my participation in the StoryDam community. It should be fun (read: *absolutely terrifying*) to share some of my chapters with people in my class to get constructive criticism on them: WISH ME LUCK!

Hoping everyone else in ROW80 is doing well with their writing goals this round.

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