Despite a summer that’s been anything but—an ornery jet stream has brought us cold temperatures, overcast skies and endless rain—I’ve been having a pretty good time. That’s because I’ve been spending the summer doing revisions. First I had a set of revisions from my editor, and now I’m reworking a novel I’d written several years ago. At 115k words, it needed a trim.

Revisions are much more relaxing for me than first draft writing. The structure is already there—the plot works, the setting is described, the dialogue is in place. It’s just a matter of switching things around, changing pov (my biggest problem, according to my editor, is switching pov too many times!). Some characters need clearer motivation, others need more description (I hadn’t realized I hadn’t bothered to describe the “villian” of the book at all!). I’m trying to show more, tell less. And there were way too many smiles and grins going on—it’s an easy way to insert a beat within dialogue: “she grinned”. “He smiled”. Before you know it, your characters are grinning and smiling like a couple of yahoos on Prozac.

When I write first draft scenes, I feel tense. I’m scared of getting the plot wrong, heading in the wrong direction. It’s like driving around without a map, knowing you have to get to some place but having only a vague idea of what the place looks like. I usually end up, figuratively, stuck in traffic. Afraid to push on. Lingering too long over the scenery.

I’ve tried using maps—outlines—but they’re useless. The lines on the page have no resemblance to the scenery—or the scenes.

So, despite the weather, and my pathetic garden (first drowned , then eaten by slugs) I’m having a pretty good summer of writing—or re-writing.

And now there’s a blue sky outside my office window, and a screen full of words on my computer—what could be better?

Hope your summer’s been as productive, or at the very least, more summer-like.

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