The Red Ink
I know you’ve been paying attention to my tweets and the Mess’s Facebook updates, so you know that I’m in the middle of editing Losing Faith. You also know that during the first draft process it went through some character changes. One was even demoted and then eventually fired because she just held one of the main characters back. A couple of minor characters came to the forefront to take major roles and finally the draft was complete and the story told. However, it wasn’t the original tale I had set out to share. It had evolved and, I’ll admit, for the better.
Then the editing and revisions began. It wasn’t so bad at first. I had to pepper in some scenes to strengthen some of the subplots, add a little back story here and there, and even fire and hire a couple of more minor characters. Not too difficult.
Of course, by the time I reached chapter ten, there was more red ink than black on my paper. I’m not sure how other writers perform their editing task. Some, I’m sure, do it right there on the computer. I can’t. I need to print it all out from the computer and hold it in my hands. I know that if I don’t I’ll get sucked in to the many social media sites I am a part of. Furthermore, I use red ink, not just so that it stands out from the black, but because it represents the blood that I put into my work. That may sound grotesque to you, but I assure you the symbolism holds very true.
As writers, we put quite a bit of ourselves into each and every word, not just the tales we are sharing. These are our dreams, our stories. For the characters to be real to the reader, they must be real to us. Drawing red ink through their lines, changing their story, is a serious event. We sometimes fight extremely hard to save everything, even to the point of forcing scenes that we know are awkward. Eventually, we have to cut things still and we feel the wounds we’ve inflicted on our creations as we do. However, we know that the story is stronger for the cutting.
Sometimes, it is vital for us to take the red ink to our own lives. We know that our storyline isn’t as strong as it should be. Some characters are holding us back from being everything we are supposed to be. Perhaps we have too many subplots going on, distracting us from the main story. Our take could even be in the wrong setting and we need a change of scenery.
Most of us know how we want our stories, our lives, to end. There are times when it is necessary to use the red ink to change things. We’re in charge of our own revisions in order to shape the story. Oh, it’ll hurt, trust me. Some characters we may be quite fond of, but if their subplot holds more drama than our own story, it’s time to cross through them. Some locations are dear to us, but in order to achieve the desired ending, in order to move our story forward, it may be time for a change.
It’s your story. How do you want it to go? Don’t be afraid to make the revisions necessary in order to gain the desired Happy Ever After you are chasing. Once your story is on track, you won’t remember the red ink as much, because you’ll be caught up in the real action, and that's where you really want to be.
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