Writing and Revision in the Age of Social Media

A while back I stumbled upon Write On by Kindle, a place where authors can share and get feedback on new work (for those of you familiar with WattPad, Write On seems to be Amazon’s response). Write On offers this as explanation for what it provides:

Write On is a place for all the people who make great writing happen. Here, you can get support and provide feedback at every stage of the creative process. You can read fresh stories in every genre and find ones that you love–the kind of stories you want to champion, the ones you know could be amazing if they just got the right input early enough.

wadded up paperI like that idea of championing stories while they are still being finalized. I also like the idea that people can see a story develop in action. Writing is never a simple process. It’s not just sit down, type a bunch of words, and voila! The story is done—fait accompli  (and suddenly I am having flashbacks to Mrs. Simpson’s French class). Sometimes an author can get the bare bones of the story down and then spend hours and hours revising and fine-tuning it. Other times a character emerges, taking over the story, and the author completely revamps the story around the character. [Tweet “#Writing is never a simple process. It’s not just sit down, type a bunch of words, and voila!”]

True story: “Philadelphia, 1964” from Honeysuckle Road was originally a story about a black girl and a white boy who sneaked into the backyard to play doctor. “The Stone,” also from Honeysuckle Road, was originally a story about a man returning to his childhood home and discovering that his high school sweetheart had cheated on him with his best friend. Neither of these stories look anything like their original versions. In the first, I realized that I liked one of the characters, but I wanted her to be more innocent about the world around her; I also didn’t want the focus to be on the race issue. So I revised the setting and the characters around her. As I did, I was able to understand the main character’s back story, which added to the storyline. In the second story, I fell in love with Kennedy, the main character, so much that I wanted to see how he had become the man I was writing about, which led me to explore his relationship with his best friend, Tom. Let me tell you, one of the hardest things I have ever done as a writer was completely scrap the original story and start over from scratch. I thought I was going to puke, and for a week I walked around as if I had just lost my best friend. Luckily, the end result was so much more of the story I really wanted to tell. [Tweet “One of the hardest things I have ever done as a writer was completely scrap the original story”]

So the idea that readers can see a story develop and, even more exciting, contribute to its development by giving the writer meaningful feedback is more than a little intoxicating. I currently have two pieces up at Write On: “Skeleton Dance,” a short story about a little girl trying to survive the eccentricities of her grandmother, and “Tin-Star Terry,” a flash fiction piece written in response to a Write On weekend challenge (and I’ll give you a heads up here: I love the Terry character. He’s one of those that I need to flesh out and give him his own full story, so…um…hint, hint, feedback appreciated). If you want to read the stories and offer feedback (Do you want me to beg? Because I just might…teehee), visit my profile on Write On.

 

Comments

  • Completely changing a story must be a huge challenge!
    Endings are particularly difficult to change, especially when you have 2-3 versions handly. What to choose, what to choose? Think offering 2 different endings can sometimes work.

    • It’s really daunting, to be sure. My beta readers were shocked when I showed up with “rewrites” for the two stories I mentioned and they were completely new stories. But starting from scratch with the same core concept/characters can be freeing as well…in a weird sort of sadomasochistic way. 😉

      C. JaiMarch 17, 2015
  • I *hate* this part of the process.
    Yeah. I said it.
    I hate that so much of what I write is trash can fodder (real or virtual)
    Sigh.

    I do like to know that it’s part of the truth and that other writers, every other writer, is up against it.
    There’s that at least.

    MardraMarch 27, 2015
    • Hi, my name is C. Jai, and I am a revision-hater.

      Yes, I think we might need to start a support group.

      C. JaiMarch 27, 2015

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