Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shrunken Novels and Little Else

I just realized I never posted about my Shrunken Manuscript experience, which was singular. So I figured I'd make up for it now, since there's not much else to report.

The Shrunken Manuscript technique came my way via Darcy Pattison, whose web site on revision I highly recommend. In July, just before I sent my editor the latest revision on SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS, I decided to give it a try.

You start the process by doing whatever is necessary to shrink your manuscript to about 30 pages: reduce the font size, eliminate all white space, narrow all margins. Then you decide what concerns you--in my case, whether everybody's sitting around talking too much, as my characters tend to do. You assign a color to each aspect of your novel that interests you, and mark up the manuscript with highlighters in the appropriate colors. In my case, I had colors for dialogue, description, exposition, action, and suspense. You can also stick colorful stickers at any place that you like a lot, although I found that less helpful because it was too subjective.

As I recall, dialogue was pink. Notice the decided pink tinge to the manuscript.

The end of the process is supposed to be spreading out your manuscript and stepping back to figure out if there are places where one color predominates more than you want it to, or if the colors aren't spread around the way you want them. (Sort of a visual composition exercise.) I found that I had my answers long before that point--it was informative enough just going through and marking up the manuscript.

Then it was just a matter of breaking up all the excessively pink places by cutting out their tiny individual bejesuses or interjecting a bit of green or purple or blue. Easy-peasy, right? HAhahahahahahahahaha.....

IN OTHER NEWS: Life has improved since the last post. Rob is on his feet, although he's still got a swollen eardrum and is having to take antihistamine pills, which he hates. The Work in Progress is humming along, 180 pages of excruciatingly rough draft so far and beginning to wind down toward the end. The nasty little voice does keep asking me if it's all Old Hat and poorly written beyond salvation and in general a Humongous Great Big Bore. I loftily ignore this voice until 3 a.m., when it borrows a megaphone.

Otherwise, there's practically nothing going on. I've been varnishing window sashes, because years of wintertime condensation have undermined the original varnish and the wood gets moldy. Rob is doing a marvelous job of holding himself back when every physical and spiritual inch of him is dying to grab the brush and do it right. Such is the torment of the Handy Person living with one who is constantly at war with the inanimate world.

So far I have managed not to tip over the can of varnish when it's poised over carpet or upholstery. In fact, I haven't tipped it over at all. (I suspect I just jinxed myself. *knocks on wood*)

I bribe myself into doing this project by listening to things, most recently an audio of MISTRESS OF THE ART OF DEATH by Ariana Franklin. (The link is to the hardcover, because the audio book page doesn't have a cover photo for some reason.) I also have been listening to MISTRESS to bribe myself into exercising, except on the stationary bike where I'm reading Diana Wynne Jones' HOUSE OF MANY WAYS. Before I go to bed I'm immersed in Neal Stephenson's THE DIAMOND AGE. I suppose this could get confusing after a while, but it helps that they're hugely different from each other and each is excellent in its own way.

And not a preponderance of pink in any one of them.

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