March Revision: Fiction

I revised three fiction pieces.

Melanie: Not the title, but the character. If I cut this piece to a sentence, it’s about wanting what you cannot have. I wrote this piece very quickly, in the shadow of my own want. Because I felt too connected to Melanie’s situation, I threw in all these details that are mine. In the latest revision, I cut a number of them. I am not Melanie, even if we’ve walked the same want. One thing that I gave wholly to Melanie is my close following of Syria. Though I kept a fairly accurate timeline of events in my mind, I cut some of the extra “reporting” from the story.

I Still Want You: This piece has a nameless narrator and is set in Kuwait. Another mom, another wanting what she cannot have. For the past year I’ve felt ridiculous picking at the same scab: lust and discontent show up in my notebooks and fiction. This piece came together very quickly and I revised it a couple times. I’m letting it rest for another week or two. I wrote it in present tense.

I feel less ridiculous about rewriting the topic of lust after reading I Want To Show You More by Jamie Quatro. I think that sometimes there is something in your life that just won’t shut up. While Quatro managed to weave faith and God into her pieces addressing infidelity, I didn’t do that with the two above. I didn’t want to try, really. The two pieces above are not my only writing on the subject and I openly address my faith and prayers and the grit of flesh and spirit in my personal writing, some of which may evolve into essay.

Jeff: Again, not the title, but the character. This piece is also set in Kuwait, following an Afghanistan vet working as a contractor. The first drafts of this piece contained a lot back story on Jeff and his family. In the first revision I cut cut cut. In this revision, I cut to compress.

I’m just learning what compression in fiction means. I need to recognize the purpose of my longer drafting: to let me meet my characters. But wandering back story and exhaustive detail does not allow the reader to sink in the immediate story. These revisions were work, each averaging two or three hours of rereading, scrolling, cutting, pasting, rewording. I was surprised to feel so intensely at some points in my reading and revision. I feared that after having looked at these characters for so long, this latest revision might be a little pale.

But now, I am afraid I’m a little blind to what really works. I’ll move on to the next round of fiction revision and let these pieces sit.

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