11.19.13

A day of editing, with a net 500 new words. Started at the beginning and edited what was already there, plugging in a new plot point, taking another out. Putting flesh on the bone. This method of writing is slower than what I'd like, but it's richer, as well, more complete. Tomorrow will be even deeper, and even better. 

Randy requested chicken soup, so there's a pot now simmering on the stove. I've made analogies between writing and cooking before, but it strikes me that soup making in particular is nicely suited to the concept of editing. Especially veteran soup makers, who don't use recipes, and veteran writers, for whom editing is a joy as much as a chore.

Cutting up all the vegetables for the mire poix, making sure there's equal parts white, green and orange in the base of the pot, then adding more orange, because I'm a carrot fiend. Splashing in handfuls of spices (unmeasured, of course) the small decisions based on what it looks like after a good stir-- I think I'll add a bit of garlic, that bay leaf is too small, I'll balance it with this large one, I need a touch more thyme -- then the utilitarian parts:  searing the chicken breast to give it some texture, adding in the broth and setting it to simmer. Later I'll add the peas and the noodles, shred the chicken, and voila - soup's on. 

Writing down new words and cutting old, rearranging the sentences, moving a paragraph here, changing a pov there, adding in a layer of backstory, taking out a red herring, then the utilitarian parts: making sure the chapters are the right length, the endings of each compel the reader forward, the slow-burning fuse is laid in the proper spot. Later I'll go back through again, adding in the garnishes, the senses, the smells and sights and sounds that don't make it in until the last pass.

There's a similar rhythm to the acts that is never lost on me when I'm in creation mode. I've made soup a hundred times, I've edited my words a hundred times - it's all instinct at this point. Instinct and a moment of fervent prayer that I haven't cocked it up.

Reading Megan Abbott's DARE ME - think cheerleaders meet LORD OF THE FLIES. I'm enjoying it -- Abbott is one of our finest crime fiction writers: her phraseology, the way she draws the reading into her world, the dread that permeates the story -- she's a master, and each time I pick up her books I know I'm in good hands. So I'm off to finish, and stir the soup.

Sweet dreams!

 

J.T. Ellison

J.T. Ellison is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of fifteen critically acclaimed thrillers and is the co-author of the Nicholas Drummond series with #1 New York Times bestselling author Catherine Coulter. With over a million books in print, Ellison’s work has been published in twenty-five countries and thirteen languages. She is also the co-host of A Word on Words, Nashville's premier literary TV series, which airs on Nashville Public Television. She lives with her husband and twin kittens in Nashville. Visit JTEllison.com, and follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick or at Facebook.com/JTEllison14.