It’s been almost three months since I worked on revisions for Cherry Bomb. I blogged about my encouraging notes from the editor I’m working with back in June (see “Potential to be Extraordinary”) and then I hunkered down and began the process. Three weeks later the process came abruptly to a stop when I was in a serious car accident. YESTERDAY I finally got back in the saddle and continued those novel revisions!
I don’t consider the three-month writing sabbatical a loss. My editor had recommended some reading to help me pump up the volume on my characters and plot, and I’m half-way through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo trilogy and have read some of Bone River by Megan Chance. Both of these writers are teaching me how to improve my character development and make some big structural adjustments. Today I plan to do a writing exercise recommended by this editor in her “final impressions” section of the notes she sent to me:
In CHERRY BOMB, you’ve posited some truly fascinating female characters in conversation with one another—and I find that intriguing The work ahead is to refine those characters into three-dimensional human beings that fulfill the promise of their potential (i.e., that live up to the vivid first glimpses of these women we get). My recommendation to you is this: consider writing at least one chapter for each main female character from that woman’s first-person POV…. To develop a much clearer vision of each of these women in your mind, and the best way to do that is to dive inside their points-of-view, get comfortable seeing the world through their eyes, and be open to whatever happens next! This is just a writing exercise but I think it will really help you step outside your narrative habits in CHERRY BOMB and think of the women you’ve created in new and more complex ways.
Before my accident, I probably wouldn’t have considered taking the time to do this exercise. I was always in a hurry to get the revisions done and send the manuscript back to the agent. Being house-bound while recovering has taught me to slow down a bit, not only physically, but mentally. Hopefully I’ve begun to learn some much-needed patience as I return to the work. I can only work on the manuscript for an hour or so at a time without hurting my neck or needing to elevate my leg. But I’m learning to make the most of those short work-slots, take breaks, and get back to work again. It’s quite a departure from the way I usually work—three or four hours at a time without much of a break.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying sharing my writing friends’ successes this fall, including Wendy Reed’s reading and signing tomorrow night at Burke’s Books here in Memphis. Wendy will be staying with us, so I’m excited to get to spend some time with her. If you’re in the Memphis area, come to Burke’s at 5:30 to meet Wendy and get a signed copy of her new book, An Accidental Memoir: How I Killed Someone and Other Stories!