The Season of Fall: Writing Style

Today’s post was written by Michelle Timian. To read more about her, check out my Seven Questions piece. I hope you enjoy her post.

In my office, I’m a little obsessed about my plant.  His card called him a Bonsai Fichus and says he likes his leaves to be misted.  During my 3-month leave of absence from work, I had to find a good, responsible coworker to watch out for him.  I call him Planty. 

With the seasons changing, I freak out a little.  He’s losing leaves.  Not orange and red ones; he’s not a maple.  They are green leaves.  Apparently healthy leaves. 

Leaves he’s not supposed to lose.

So what does this have to do with writing?

Right now, I am editing a little novel of mine called The Elevator.  I got the idea for it originally back in 2004, when I just decided to myself ‘Let’s make a novel!’  It’s easy to say I’ve been single-mindedly writing, promoting and pursuing publication for this idea since that moment.  I wrote the entire thing in a frenzy of binge-writing.  In four months I had a completed product that I sent to any agent looking for unusual “magical realism” adventure fantasy…or one of those things.  Anything was worth a shot.

With every rejection, I tweaked my query letter; I used any and all comments about the rejection to improve my draft.

In 2009, I thought I had it.  An agent was interested, requested my manuscript…I spent a very fretful five months waiting for the “I’m going to represent you!” response.  Instead, I got one politely telling me that the agent was skipping out on the whole representation deal.

Where did I go wrong?

It’s taken me a long time to take another look at Elevator, but with my fanbase clamoring to read the book I have been talking about and commissioning fanart for years, I have made the decision to start posting chapters online.  There was no chance I was going to put up the draft that’s been with me since the beginning.  Nope, I decided from the start that I would edit this thing.  After all, I hadn’t stopped writing altogether in 2009 and my writing since Elevator had changed quite a bit.

Which was when I realized what had happened back in 2009.

Let’s go back to Planty.  I had green leaves.  Writing I thought was perfectly acceptable, even wonderful.  Hell, these words of mine didn’t look brown and orange and red.  This was good stuff, right?

But with the years between, I saw that what I had written before just wasn’t good enough.  Not if I wanted to reach the wonderful realm of published authors.  I would need to edit, change, improve every line in Elevator.

That’s the rough part about writing.  Sometimes you just can’t tell when your writing needs to be edited.  As with Planty, green leaves – the apparently good stuff – aren’t healthy, living leaves.  They need to be lost as much as the brown and orange ones, the obviously bad writing. 

But this is the exciting part, too.  Finding out where you can get better, what you need to change to make the best bit of writing you can.  And isn’t that why we write in the first place?

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