Monday, July 6, 2015

On researching, writing and revising

These are challenging times. For me as a writer, that is.

Not only am I in the middle of some very intense research for my next novel (a historical novel for the young-adult audience), I am also revising several Abigail stories of my own, working with a fellow writer on her early draft stories, incorporating readers' suggestions into my draft play and starting to work on the novel itself.

And also writing blogs and doing a great deal of writing at work.

Yes, busy, interesting and challenging times, for sure.

The research, I love, and I am finding that the internet is really coming into its own as a research tool. As recently as five years ago, I would be bemoaning how limited online resources actually are on certain issues but now I am impressed. I've been able to find, for example, daily weather reports for London from 1940.

Of course, the more factual details you can find about a historical period, the more pressure there is on you to ensure that your fictional writing reflects those details. It's fun but challenging.

The revision (of stories and plays) is also very interesting. Unfortunately, I am a writer who enjoys hammering out the original draft a lot more than I enjoy the revise-and-rewrite process. So I have to force myself to focus on the task of improving on the original and one way I do that is by having excellent readers review and make suggestions on my drafts.

When the feedback is so strong and on-point that you wish you had thought of it yourself, it's a lot easier to decide to incorporate it into your work.

Working with other writers on their work is also a fun challenge. I hope I can be as good a reader and as diplomatic a purveyor of feedback for others as my own readers are for me. I always try to start with the positive and to make constructive suggestions on the ways I think the writing can be improved. But I also feel very strongly that giving feedback on someone's writing is not just about focusing on the detail -- you have to be willing to raise issues of structure, of tone, of point of view even.

It's a lot of work to keep up with all these different paths in my writing career. But very rewarding too.