Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Subtle Touch

My time away from my blog last week was well used -- I got through my entire wip (officially Draft Number Two) and I'm almost ready to send it to my next round of beta readers (be warned beta readers).

I've mentioned before that I seem to write cleaner first drafts than I realized, and so often when I'm editing I feel like I'm doing something wrong. I don't cut large chunks of prose, I don't hack away at my characters... things stay pretty close to the way I originally wrote them. But because I hear about my writing friends and their editing processes (procesi?) I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something important.

Well, I finally did some honest to goodness EDITING. I rewrote entire pages. Even -- gasp! -- cut a couple paragraphs! In once instance I actually rewrote a scene from a different point of view. (That was tricky yet surprisingly fun.)

I'm currently beta reading for a friend and once I finish I plan to do another pass on my own wip. I need to tighten the father's POV in the earlier chapters and I'm considering changing up the opening scene. Right now I have him "bolting upright in bed", something I keep hearing is beyond cliche, and I have it so the father hears a commotion down the hall, but the mother, who's sleeping in bed next to him, does not. I think if I have him already awake that will resolve that issue. I'm thinking about having him going to the bathroom but don't really want to open my book with a flushing toilet.

One exciting (to me) thing that happened during my editing is I worked the title of my wip, After the Fall, into the story. I love when I'm reading and I come across the title that way. I always wonder if the author incorporated it after she came up with the title, or if she inserted it like I did. Either way, it always makes me smile, like I'm included in an inside joke.

For my writing friends, do you slip your title into your manuscripts? And you non-writers, do you notice when the title appears in the book you're reading?

24 comments:

ab said...

As a matter of fact, yes. I'd tell you where - but that would ruin it ;)

Amy Sue Nathan said...

I've had titles emerge from phrases within drafts. My WIP has had many titles...and the current one, The Glass House, is in there organically, I hope!

Am I one of your lucky betas? Hope so!

Melanie's Mom said...

I love suddenly figuring out why the book was titled as it was -- whether that means by using the words of the title itself or another subtle reference.

Janna Qualman said...

*flush* I don't know. You could make it work. ;)

I love when that happens, too. Mine (A Gradual Goodbye) worked in back about a third through. I don't know if it'll stick through edits, or if the title will even make all the rounds, but I hope!

Ditto what your mom said. The title and its purpose has to be clear to me, in one way or another, by book's end.

Melanie Avila said...

AB, I bet I can get it out of you...

Amy, emerging organically is the best way! Mine has a double meaning AND I got it into the story. Score!

I checked my notes and yes, you are one of my betas. :)

Mom, excellent point.

Janna, lol! I just don't feel like a giggle is the best way to start my sad depressing book.

I really like A Gradual Goodbye.

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

I'm like you, I love incorporating the title into a passage. Sometimes I write and then come up with the title.

"Snow Falling on Cedars" is one title that I marvel at. Very clever and poignant. I'd love my book title to have that kind of lovely feel to it.

Adam said...

I don't think I've ever incorporated a title in a story. One reason is because my stories don't have titles until the very end, often after the final edits. :-)

Adam

Melanie Avila said...

Jewel, that's so crazy you mentioned that book because for some reason it's ALWAYS stuck with me. An almost magical feeling carried me through the book and the image of the snow falling on cedars is one I would love to recapture.

Adam, my first novel mentioned the title A LOT (The Other Side). In fact, it's even in my second novel, lol.

Adam said...

Ah, that's an easy one to work in! My urban fantasy novella (coming soon to Lyrical Press! *promote* *promote*) is called "A Reaper's Tale - The Undecided." That'd be a bitch to work in lol ;-)


Adam

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

"Snow" is back on my reading pile from the library even though I have read it before. I agree, the story is mesmerizing and lyrical, like watching snow fall outside...

Melanie Avila said...

Adam, you could still work in the idea of it. Think of it as a challenge, because, you know... you don't have enough challenges right now!

Jewel, I hope you enjoy it!

Adam said...

Heh, maybe I could use the first letter of each chapter to spell it out... ;-)

Adam

Lisa Marie Miles said...

Not that you asked, but I was trying to think of reasons the husband might be awake. Maybe he had coffee with dinner and he doesn't usually. Or he's feeling randy and is thinking of waking his wife? His wife is snoring?

Melanie Avila said...

Adam, that IS an idea... :P

Lisa, I like the idea of wanting to wake up his wife, lol. They don't have any love scenes, but they do show affection for each other, and that would lock in that it's a stable marriage. I was thinking of having him read -- which is what I'd be doing up -- but there can't be a light on.

JLC said...

Way to go with the editing!

Yes, I do notice when a title has been added to the story but I don't think it is something I do on purpose as a writer. At least not with fiction. However, most of my poems share the same title with one of its lines.

Nadine said...

I totally giggled with the idea of a story starting with a toilet flush. :)

Hmm, I don't think I have ever included my titles in the actual story. They just didn't seem to work a way in, although they are all currently being worked on so there is still time!

Melanie Avila said...

JLC, I like that about poems. I am hereby nominating you to be my official poetry liaison.

Nadine, see, that proves my point. It isn't a giggling beginning. I kept going back to your title while reading, it just fits so perfectly. (LU)

Robin said...

I love when writers do that in books. I feel like I solved a puzzle or something.

I've never read a book that opened with a toilet flush, but I think that would be awfully amusing. Can I borrow the idea?

ElanaJ said...

I usually title my novels before I start writing, and sometimes I put it in. Sometimes I don't. I've noticed it in a few novels, but not many. What's more perplexing to me is the book that has a title that makes absolutely no sense to the story. (Like Hush, Hush. I mean, srsly. It's about a fallen angel. Why Hush, Hush? I don't get it.)

Melanie Avila said...

Robin, yes! A puzzle. Please, take the toilet flush -- I don't think I can bring myself to use it.

Elana, I'm the same way. The Crimson Petal and the White is a title that still makes zero sense to me. I've come up with my own explanations, but I doubt they're correct.

As fro Hush, Hush, I haven't read it, but maybe it's the sound of the angel wings falling?

Penguin said...

Ok, reasons why I wake up from a dead sleep.

One can feel a presence in the house or room when in a certain sleeping state.
Max would sometimes wake me up by moving around the house.
So you could start it out with something like......
His eyes snapped open, something was not right, was that someone moving around in the house?
But add that writing flair that you have.

Get this, my word is ditywar

Melanie Avila said...

Penguin, that's more or less how I have it right now. :)

Natasha Fondren said...

Oh yes, I'm just like you. I love the title slipped into the story line! In fact, in John Irvings' latest, Last Night in Twisted River, the title is in the last sentence. So cool. And it also reflects on the inciting incident. I love it.

I also like when they can have double meanings. My current title won't be in the story, unfortunately. :-(

Erica said...

Cool post! I haven't really tried to integrate it yet, but I'm sure it would be easy to get it in my current WIP!

I agree- it is cool when I read that in someone's book. You describe it well, like an inside joke :o)