"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Monday, November 28, 2011

Polishing It

Okay, I did it. I wrote that dreaded second draft. I went through my notes and addressed all the issues (that I could see--I'm sure there are more). I made my characters stronger. I've checked to make sure I don't have a sagging middle. I showed instead of told. I've tried to incorporate a bit of foreshadowing, I've fixed those questionable sentences. I reread all 110 pages of research to check my facts. I've even gone through the manuscript and attempted to take out unnecessary truly's, well's, just's, and so's, cutting almost 100 words in the process.

Now, on to the polishing.

James Scott Bell says to do a scene read-through. Make sure you're hooking the reader from the beginning. Draw out suspenseful scenes. Delay information, make sure there are enough surprises. Then go on to a dialogue read-through. Cut unnecessary words, add conflict into dialogue, even among allies.

Almost done. Even then, after all my hard work, I know my story will fall short. I'll be sending it to my critique group this week and trust that their expert eyes will catch most of my mistakes. I love my critique group and wouldn't be able to function without them!

What is your favorite part of the revision process? Does any of it frighten you? (I was petrified to read my WIP through for the first time.) Do you have a critique group that helps improves your work?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Thankful Today

The TODAY show is celebrating its 60th Anniversary. A couple days ago the hosts were talking about the beginnings of the morning show in 1952. In 1952 people didn't have televisions all over the house, if they had them at all. And there were no programs on before 11:30 in the morning. So when Dave Garroway first introduced the TODAY show as an early morning program, some were skeptical. It was said that morning was a sacred time, that Americans wouldn't let just anyone into their households so early in the morning. But Garroway proved a hit. He had a special way of coming across the camera, of speaking to people at this sacred time of day.
That made me think. Do we think of the morning, or even of our entire day as a sacred time? As a gift from God? Did our ancestors have a different way of viewing their hours on this earth? I can't help but think how many times I've rolled out of bed, slapped on some make-up, pulled on some clothes, and trudged through a day that, in my mind, very much resembled the one before it. A monotonous routine of cleaning, refereeing arguments, cooking, and running errands.
But is that how God wants me to view my day? Probably not. And I wonder how much richer my days would be if I would look at them differently. This morning, this day, is precious. Everything I do will matter if I do it for the glory of God. And may I not remember this truth only at Thanksgiving. May every day be a thankful today.
What do you do to remind yourself of the value of your day?

Monday, November 14, 2011

What I Took Away from Women of Faith

I had the awesome privilege to attend a Women of Faith conference this weekend for the first time. I laughed, I cried, I reveled in God's love for me. I long to share all I experienced with my blog readers, but by the end of the conference my head was so full with all I'd heard that I felt overwhelmed. And so, in my still sleep-deprived state, I wish to share two things with you that were a blessing to me. In turn, I hope to bless you.

1) The Shepherd knows where to find you.

Sheila Walsh shared this amazing truth with us. During the darkest time of her life, she found herself in a mental institution, struggling to find the will to live. She dragged a blanket to the corner of the room and sat in the dark, her despair descending her farther and farther into the pit of hell. In that pit she prayed for a shred of hope, anything to give her a reason to continue on with life.

A short time later a man she couldn't identify--one she now believes was an angel--came into the room and handed her a stuffed lamb. "The shepherd knows where to find you," he said.

This reminder was that shred of hope Sheila needed, as I think we all do. How many times do we feel the need to get our act together before coming to Jesus? How many times do we try to hide from him in shame?

He loves you still. He knows where to find you. Remember how he left the other ninety-nine sheep to look for you?

This truth hit home for me.

2) Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.

Go ahead, read that again. It takes some time to let it sink in, for we often search for peace in the condition of happy circumstances. Good job, check. Happy husband, check. Obedient children, check. Paid mortgage and hefty retirement fund, check. Okay, now I can be happy.

But even Jesus didn't promise such things. In fact he promised trouble. "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart for I have overcome the world."

In the storms of life, the only true peace is one where Christ is the anchor.

Thank you Sheila, and thank you to the Women of Faith team for being so real, for allowing me to grasp the love of God a little more firmly. Even if only one person reads this post, I pray they too will feel God's amazing grace and love in some small way. God bless!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reading It Through

As I sit to write this, my house is in shambles. This weekend, my living room had no wall. I could sit on the couch and wave to the passerby on the street. Fun. Nevertheless, I've plunged ahead with my rewrites. Ignoring the dust and the total disorganization of my house, I focused on organizing my work-in-progress.

In his book, Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell recommends reading your manuscript through as quickly as you can. So after letting my WIP cool for almost two weeks, I pushed aside my fears and read the entire thing through in a few hours."Do not get bogged down in details at this point, " Bell writes. "What you want is the big picture."

Likewise, in her workshop, The Art of Self-Editing, Barbara Scott says to take a 50,000-foot view. Look for major structural weaknesses and check that every page is moving the story forward.

I was a little afraid as I sat down with my newest manuscript. I'd written the first draft fairly quickly and hadn't stopped to do a lot of editing along the way. I knew I'd find any glaring inconsistencies and even horrible storytelling on the read-through.

And so I did. But it could have been worse. I took tons of notes after I read it through. Put it through the wringer. I'm still evaluating how to make it better.

But now I'm excited instead of scared. I know what has to be done, and my story will be better for it in the long run.

What is your initial reaction to rewriting? Do you look forward to the challenge or shy away from the hard work?