Subtle, Flowing Revisions


Ever since I decided four years ago that I’m a writer, I have been trying to finish a book. A couple years ago, I did. A year later, I realized it was the worst book ever created on the face of this earth.

In college, I took a fiction writing class and learned the art of the short story, which is not necessarily my strong suit, but I enjoyed writing a few short stories, nonetheless. I also, through working with the literary journal,learned how to critique others’ writing and, in turn, my own. Then, I learned about revising. I learned that it isn’t entirely evil to take a story you’ve completed in the past and basically rip it to shreds and glue it back together as a new idea.

Please…don’t get me wrong. I actually love revising. I never thought I would have, but I really do. It’s become a new part of me. Though, I’m one of those “revise-as-you-go” people. I take years to daydream the concept of a story first…expound on the idea…let it sit…learn everything about all the characters…let it sit…add some drama…let it sit…find the depths the characters are hiding…let it sit…find the utterly brilliant and profound underlining theme of the story and world…and finally, put pen to paper and write it. So, in that sense, the bulk of the work is over. There’s really no need to revise it except contextually (the words). And Heaven knows I am a living grammar book, so I need no proofreading.

So, that explains why it’s taken me so long to write a real book…And that is exactly what I’m doing now. I’m halfway through a novel (rather, a novella) whose idea and characters came to me in the everfamous realm of 2011 (a whole nother story in itself) and whose revised and expounded revival came to me the end of 2012 into 2013, where I am now.

The novel is called Subtle, Flowing Changes, though I jokingly refer to it as “Subtle, Flowing Revisions” because I have revised it so much. It’s a simple story about a junior high student named Cera Brandenburg, who is a self-proclaimed eccentric in love with words. She and her parents move to the city (in search of a better job); Cera becomes annoyed because she hates change and public school so much (she was homeschooled). While at school, she meets a mysterious girl named Mariah Fomigante, who is a counselor in disguise with many secrets. Throughout the course of the story, Mariah tries to change Cera to be a better person while Cera gets wrapped up in mysterious events regarding the city.

One could say it’s a “magical realism” story. I’m not familiar with all the wierd genres nowadays. Also, I stink at summaries.

For no reason at all, here’s a part of the first chapter:

                        Chapter 1:

          I couldn’t believe that we had to move. My parents were at the end of their ropes. We had to move into the bustling, big city in order to make a decent living. And I, a humble little school girl, had to get up from my pretty throne and move into the terrorsome world that kids these days call “public school.” I hate change. I always have, I always will. At least my attitude toward change will never change. If it did, I think my mind would start to melt.

            We used to live in the sheltered country-side—where you don’t see a person for miles. When we moved, my parents thought it’d be a good idea to conceal me within my comfort zone by purchasing the house which lay in the only thick, dense forest which lay beside the roaring concrete jungle. They were right; it comforted me every night to hear not only the swaying of the trees outside my window, but also to hear the many screams and horns of traffic which I never wanted or wished to experience. My life stinks. The first night we stayed at the “Enchanted Forest,” I didn’t get a minute of sleep.

            The next morning, Mother & Father decided that it would be a good idea to send me to school—a “real” school. And not just any school, mind you, but the biggest and, therefore, most humiliating public school in the city. Five weeks into the semester. TODAY. Great idea, Mom & Dad. Maybe I’ll fit in better if I didn’t go to that school. My mom drove me to school my first day, saying that the next 200 odd days I’d have to walk there myself. Then she uttered that spine-chilling phrase she always told me from the moment I first laid my soulless, gray eyes upon this lonely, hopeless world, “It’s time for change.”

            I walked into the school and immediately felt congested and claustrophobic. The air was thin as if the thousands of living souls in this one hallway gulped up all the air and left none for me; the air was thick with the presence of so much body heat, I began to sweat profusely. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t move. I just stood there, stymied, like a frozen corpse made to stand up in front of millions of scientists only for the main man of the conference to state the dead body’s sole purpose—it has none.

An adult brought me back to life with a tap on the shoulder. I gasped a breath of fresh air. It was a miracle! I felt alive! The woman was drawn to me because of my stymied expression; she asked me what was wrong.

“Just…lost, I guess,” this is the only answer I could find on such short notice.

“Lucky I found you. I’m the principal! Come with me, OK?”

Undoubtedly a very compassionate individual.

 The principal took me down the winding halls to her iron-clad office. She told me everything I needed to know—including the things that I needed to know, but most certainly didn’t want to know. She then handed me a stack of books and my locker number and combo. I was equipped for battle. I marched to my “new” locker (it looked as though a bully had taken residence of it before and had used the poor thing for anger management). I gracefully tossed my books into the locker and gently slammed the door. Done…and done. But wait? What do I do now? I opened my locker door and grabbed the top book, which, luckily, had a schedule attached to it. I grabbed my math (of course) textbook, and I headed to the “first class” (the principal had kept me through classical literature; how dare she?) all while suddenly realizing…Why do I even care?  

 

And there you have it…I actually have no idea what I was trying to say during this post, but whatever. Have a maple day.

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2 Responses to “Subtle, Flowing Revisions”

  1. misfortunedogged

    Here are a small number of things I’ll say:

    1) I’m intrigued by the protagonist’s tendencies. I wouldn’t say I’ve actually written social anxious characters, but I am *definitely* fond of writing socially-awkward ones. People who miss cues, “overthink things,” and become sullen about it.
    2) Is your protagonist older when narrating, or not? By which I mean, is she *reading* and *modifying* her earlier journalistic experiences? I ask this because she tends to think extremely, e.g. “spine-chilling.” When I think of the word, I…don’t really know what it means, though I can guess what it connotes. Do you know what I mean? If she’s a kid, she’d be more likely to write that way. If she’s older, she would be less-likely. And this could feed into a thematic point you figure is coming out of the story.
    3) More linkage between stimuli and responses would make for more gripping narration. I can guess why she becomes anxious, but I really want to feel like I’m there.
    4) What sorts of things your protagonist doesn’t want to know?

  2. penguingirl12

    Thanks for your comments (again); I really like that you’re helping me think in this kind of way. Usually, I just take whatever the character tells me and don’t think too much about it…Though, I can write full personality description on characters and understand their reactions, I often don’t think about things like this.
    1- I suppose you could call her “socially awkward.” She definitely doesn’t fit in with the norm, and she’s very…odd in her own tendencies. She also doesn’t have many friends.
    2- I’ve been thinking about this more. I have the feeling she is much older (maybe 30s/40s), but she has the uncanny ability to tell things in the perspective of her younger self–as though it all just happened yesturday. It’s wierd.
    Also, I recently expounded on the whole idea of the “deeper theme” and meaning of the entire story, and it’s very, very…different that what you’d probably expect from such a simple-sounding story. I tend to just write “normal, boring” stories imbued with fantastical elements. And this is definitely one of those stories!
    3- Yah. I’m really bad at “show not tell” and plus, Cera doesn’t like to go into too much detail about things…This just shows how badly I used to write (and still do sometimes!)
    4- Hmm That’s s a good one. The main theme is obviously something that eludes her (but not Mariah–who is another main character later), but as for specifics…Well, I guess she points out a few of those later like…boring jobs…losing people…becomming different…which are all tings that happen to her later. Oh, that’s a spoiler…sorry –___– Well, I’ll think about that more for sure.

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