Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Outlaw Musings--You can't ride or re-write without a..

A bike on the road is worth two in the shop

We just returned from a great weekend at the St. Louis Sisters in Crime Writersfest, where we presented a full Novelist's Boot Camp alongside Nancy Pickard offering her CASTS system for improving on a draft. It was a fun if tiring full day and evening on Saturday, and the crowd of 50 walked away with copies of Nancy's book on writing and a copy of Novelist's Boot Camp as well. Joanna Slan of the St. Louis SinC had things organized in fine and almost military precision, and the workshop ran smoothly despite unusual hotel conference room environmental challenges.
Most attendees were somewhere along in their first drafts.
Boot Camp went especially well--as it usually does. It was very rewarding to see folks walk away energized, ready to write, and with newfound confidence, a set of strategies, and armed with a new arsenal of techniques they'd learned from our Drills. Nancy's CASTS system put many of the Drills in a different format and context and offered another way to revise scenes in a first draft into a final product.
A few days after we got back we picked up the bike, which had spent a week in the shop. The most expensive part broke, naturally, and so changed any ride plans that were in the works.
So with no bike, there was no ride. And as we pointed out in our Boot Camp Drills and as Nancy pointed out in her CASTS presentation, in order to revise a draft, you must have a draft. You can't ride a bike that's not there (or has a bad alternator--sigh) and you can't revise the rough draft that you pulled from your imagination if there is no first draft to revise. While that's obvious, many miss the implication--revision of the draft is what gets you the publishable novel. Finishing a first draft, "polishing" it, running spellcheck, and then sending it off doesn't get you published, it gets you rejected. You can't revise as you create--that's a contradiction in terms, physically impossible, and a good way to never finish your novel. You can only take the journey of revision when you have your draft done and out of the shop, and only the journey of revision--using the Novelist's Boot Camp Drills of Revision Triage and Passes or Nancy Pickard's CASTS system or both--gets you to your destination of publishable manuscript.
Enjoy the ride!

1 comment:

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

It was a pleasure to see you and Terri again. Our WritersFest 2007 attendees raved about their weekend. You KICK-STARTED a lot of folks who were standing around, feet on either side of their bikes, trying to decided which direction to ride in. You've done a marvelous job of breaking down and de-mystifying a daunting process. Our guests were revving their motors, spinning out at the starting line, ready to zoom into the sunset by the time you were done with them! It's an awesome sight to see so many people, poised on the verge of taking charge of their creative ability, and given permission to fly. Thank you again for meeting us in St. Louis.