Welcome, Author and Guest Blogger, Lisa Heidke! We're thrilled to have you at Rex Robot Reviews. Lisa is the brilliant writer behind Lucy Springer Gets Even.
What does Lisa have to say...
I’m going to talk about editing, re-writing and being patient. It is a subject close to my heart as I have just submitted my third manuscript to my publisher in Australia, Allen & Unwin.
I don’t know about you, but when I finish writing a first draft, there’s that moment when I sigh heavily, metaphorically pat myself on the back and say, ‘Clever you! I didn’t realize you were so brilliant.’ And then I sit with myself awhile basking in the glory that is completing an 85,000 word manuscript. But soon after, tiny, weenie thoughts start invading my head space. What about the sister? Why didn’t you talk about the grey cat moping in the corner? How come you left out an entire character arc? ‘No,’ I’ll keep telling myself. My draft is perfect. A couple of hours later I’ve revised that to, ‘As perfect as it can be for a first draft.’
Aha! Therein lies the twist. It’s a brilliant achievement to have completed a manuscript, but it’s even more brilliant to go back, re-read it and realize how much better it could be. In my experience, layering is the key. Every writer is different. When I’m writing my first draft I tend to blurt. A friend of mine says it’s like vomiting out the words. I am not so crude! But we agree it’s all about words on paper…you can’t edit a blank page. So my objective when writing a first draft is purely to get the words written.
Next up, I let it rest a month. (Hello! A month? Yes, at least.) Rest assured, I never did this in my early days. But now I see the value. As a writer, you need time away from your precious manuscript. The month—or two, if you can handle it—will be invaluable because you’ll come back to your manuscript with fresh and hopefully, more objective, eyes. Because it’s with fresh eyes, that you’ll be able to add the layers needed to make your story realistic, edgy and a must read.
So what do you do after reading that first draft? You add layers. Layers about wicked cousins or terrifying tomato plants or in my case, with my third novel, a dead dog. Add whatever you like, as long as you can justify it in the story. Re-writing is not easy. With me, there’s a lot of staring at the computer and thinking ‘what if?’ without actually writing.
Looking back, I can see what I did wrong in my early writing days. I sent manuscripts to publishers without letting them rest and without giving me time to think about the manuscript and re-work my story to give the characters more emotional depth and appeal. With hindsight, I can see that I sent manuscripts to publishers when they were barely half-way there. If I could go back in time and give advice to myself five years ago, it would be this: ‘Yes, Lisa, you may think you have written a masterpiece, certainly your mother, husband and kids believe you have. But could you let it rest a month? Churn the characters over in your mind, think about the plot and come back and read it with fresh eyes.’
To make myself feel better, I’d also point out that clogs at the major publishing houses turn notoriously slowly.
Add layers, get to know your characters and story inside out. When you’ve been through five rewrites and several layers, Random House might just be ready to read your masterpiece…
More about Lisa Heidke...
Lisa Heidke lives in Sydney, Australia, and was a feature writer on several national magazines including Practical Parenting and Bride To Be, before deciding the time had come to write a novel. Lucy Springer Gets Even (Allen & Unwin, 2009) is her first novel and was quickly followed by What Kate Did Next (2010). Her third novel, tentatively titled Claudia Changes Course, will be published early 2011.
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