Now, I know the story that I am writing. I know it so intimately, that the original manuscript, weak as it read, neared 600 pages. I then faced a Solomon-like decision to divide my baby in two. And as difficult as that dissection felt, I soon recognized the virtue of that decision. Simply stated, concentrating on one volume at a time made editing so much easier, first for me, then for my editor. But now I am looking at the same task for volume two.
Again, I know the plot of this narrative, I know where the story ends. But writing each sentence, crafting each paragraph, delineating each chapter is tremendously challenging. The true events placed into the manuscript need special attention to convey the fresh, authentic feel of each episode. Re-writing volume two, which is essential, feels like starting over. Volume one reads easily, like the speeding down an interstate, while volume two reads more like detours onto a bumpy frontage road.
I read a portion of the manuscript, attempt to perk up the conversations, then I reread it again, to liven the descriptive language. “Was,” as a verb lays flat. I think I hate “was.” I need to percolate more active language. “She was frightened,” hardly raises an eyebrow. “Curled into a shadowed corner, the desperate child’s fingers nearly scratched through the drywall,” says fear a reader can feel.
The scenario for me is to write, re-read, write again, re-read, write again, give up, come back, re-read . . . repeat.
So I know where I will end the trip, but these detours, by-passes, and frontage road slow downs are tough to weather. I have to use my meandering method until it reads just right. That means re-writing each sentence in River, until a shape emerges that does the story justice.