Lights, Camera… ACTION!
How does your book idea first appear to you? Do you see an image which kicks off an idea? Do you read something that flashes across your brain?
For me, my fiction stories appear in my head as a slow motion movie. I see the characters move, interact, and speak. I can describe every bit of the background, setting, and dialogue. It’s as if I’m the director of my very own movie!
When the movie begins, I race to my computer and to get it down. I sit transfixed watching my story play across my brain.
Then I start typing furiously.
I am convinced that the words I’m writing are as vivid as the images I’m seeing.
Filled with excitement, I read them.
What happened? How can the images be so vivid and the words so flat?
Should I panic?
First drafts are supposed to be, well . . . UGH.
Now comes the fun part: Revising.
Wait? Revising is fun?
Believe it or not my favorite part about writing is revising. I know. That seems weird. Most people hate revising. Not me. It gives me a chance to watch the movie over and over in my head until I get it just right.
Where do you start?
I like to pretend that I am a brilliant cinematographer and I am out to create an Oscar-winning movie. (Yes. . . I know. But it is my dream, right?)
So as I pick up my pen, or in this case, hunker down in front of my keyboard, I focus on molding my writing to the image in my head.
I ask myself the following:
1. What is the mood of this piece?
--Will it be “shot” in black and white? Meaning does the story have drama, intrigue, mystery? Maybe a film noir like Casablanca?
--Is this story to be in color with vivid characters that leap off the page? Will it be chock full of excitement, action-adventure, and danger, like Indiana Jones?
2. How will my manuscript focus on the characters?
-- Will there be a close-up of just one character throughout – like first person or third person limited?
-- Will there be a narrator who is omniscient? Like Ralphie in The Christmas Story
-- Will the focus be on a group of people – second person or third person objective? Like the astronauts in The Right Stuff
3. How will the scenes flow?
-- Will they be fast and furious like an action movie?
-- Or slower and more descriptive like in a drama?
-- Will it take place all at once or be drawn out over time?
4. What is the sequence or flow of the manuscript?
--Will there be long introduction of characters?
-- Or will you just jump right into the action?
-- How long will the sequence be? Each sequence has a beginning, middle and end, so they are like subplots. They need to move the story along but not spend too much time with each one.
5. Will there be a sequel and how will you handle the overall plot line?
As I revise, I go over and over my copy, layering in each of the above items.
Yes. Over and over.
Revision takes time.
Sometimes lots of it.
The first couple of revisions may still not look at all like the movie in my head.
But eventually, the images become words on the page.
Finally, what I’m reading invokes the same dramatic images that are in my head.
And as they say in show business, That’s a wrap!
Thank you Jen!!
Jen is giving away a picture book critique to one lucky ReviMo'er! Comment on this blog post for a chance to win. Happy revising everyone!
Jennifer is an award winning author of over 20 nonfiction and fiction books for children. Her books in the “How Things Work” series by The Child’s World were named to the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth: Series Nonfiction. She has received awards from the Pennsylvania TriState Young Adult Review Committee, The Moms Choice Awards, and The Dove Foundation. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, and the National Science Teacher Association. http://jenniferswansonbooks.com/