Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Are You a Re-visionary?

I am!

My teeth have ripped back into the pages, and I am trying on the skins of my characters again after a two month hiatus: I finally got my manuscript back from my critique partner (who also happens to double as my husband and father of my children).

He is very good at telling me what's not working. Ouch.

But thank you! It's ultimately what I want and need to hear. He confirmed for me something that I already knew - my voice was getting obscured by trying to write for a "market".

This novel, India Flips, was originally written a few years ago with the working title of In Your Face, about a 17 year old Goth girl named Godiva who gets roped into being on a Reality TV show. There too, I was focusing on trying to be more commercial, but my editor at FSG didn't like it. I chose not to send it to anybody else and put it in a drawer.

But the story still called to me, and my agent had been suggesting that I write a middle grade book. I thought: what if I kept the premise of In Your Face but changed the characters and made them younger, put more of a romance angle in it? And drums! Yes, we need drums and some good ol' rock n' roll rather than the Goth angle.

So I was off to the races, writing for a "market" because, as you all know, I am eager to be published again. Too eager, because if the characters are 13 turning 14, then they are WAY too precocious.

Writers: all of our drafts are invaluable - no words written are wasted, even though many end up on the cutting room floor. Re-visioning is what makes our characters come to life. We want our readers to be able to slip inside their skins.

So who will read our work if we so it this way, who will it be marketed too?

For me, for this novel, it is too early to worry about that. Way too early! Write the story that wants to be written . . . India is turning sixteen, not fourteen.

I need to focus on writing India's story and listen to her voice, re-visioning her rather than writing what I think people may or may not want to read.

How do you do it? Are you a re-visionary too?

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  1. Re-visioning, tweaking, changing the mould for a better fit, why the heck not? I just finished revising a 320 page novel from 3rd to 1st person POV. That included writing a few new plot points and trimming off about 35 pages! Just sent it off a few days ago. Man, did that feel good!
    But, you're right, it has to fell organic and not forced into market specs. So, good luck with finding India's real voice.

  2. I love the way you wrote the word -- re-visionary. In my own writing workshops, I always remind students that the word, taken apart, means 'to see again' (i.e., not just edit, etc.) Easier said than done -- right? In my own re-visioning of the novel I've just begun submitting, I realized that an earlier draft began in the wrong place. I had a framework in mind, and I wanted it to fit. Once I changed the beginning, the story began to breathe. At least I hope it did.

  3. Write the story that wants to be written...that's being honest, which is so important! Thanks for the reminder!

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