Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I can fix a blank page" (well, sort of...)

Many writers quote Nora Roberts: "I can fix a bad page. I can't fix a blank one." The quote is meant as an impetus--permission, if you will, to write anything even when you know it's garbage because, in the end, you'll be able to fix it. I've never been able to do that. (Anybody surprised?) In fact, I can't usually move on to the next chapter of a wip until I've made the previous chapter as perfect as I can at that time.

Until today. I recently pulled my very first manuscript out of the laundry room, with the insane idea that, maybe, just maybe, it wasn't so bad and I could finally get it published now with a little tweaking.

O, ye of little sense!

Let me preface my next comments with a few facts: 1. The story is pretty good. I love the characters and the way Kismet plays with them. 2. A reader would love it--as is.

But, the writer in me cringes as I continue to turn the pages. Mechanically, the book needs some major rewriting. Yes, it was as perfect as I could have made it eight years ago: before I found RWA and the LIRW. before I knew about such initials as POV (Point of View) and GMC (Goal, Motivation and Conflict) and the dreaded TSTL (Too Stupid to Live). Still, I really love the story, and the two sequels it inspired! So I am determined to see if I can fix this puppy.

The problem is, I wind up reading entire scenes and thinking to myself, "What can I keep?" "What do I ditch?" and I become hopelessly lost in the possibilities.

Today, however, I changed all that. Rather than opening the full manuscript on my computer and playing with scenes, I opened to a (ta da!) blank page. Then I printed Chapter One and rewrote the opening scene in a new POV on the blank page. I didn't worry about Chapter Two (or Chapter Twenty-two, for that matter), I didn't attempt to determine what I could keep vs. what I should ditch. I simply rewrote the scene in a different character's head. And it was...magic! I wonder if I can write the whole book via my blank page method. Who knows? Maybe it'll inspire a workshop for National in 2007. Gina Ardito presents: Fixing the Blank Page.

To quote Willy Wonka: "The suspense is terrible. I hope it'll last."