Friday, June 19, 2009

Revise or Rewrite?

I am revisiting an old manuscript I wrote a few years ago, my Hurricane Katrina YA novel. Hopefully I have learned a thing or two (or three) about writing since I finished the first draft 3 ½ years ago.

I dug the story out a few weeks ago, along with tons of hurricane info. I was trying to find information on birds trapped inside the eye of a hurricane for my critique partner, Jennifer Lambe, because she’s working on this great non-fiction book about weird weather. I read a few pages of the manuscript, the end specifically, and had the ‘I love this story’ moment. Now I want to revise the manuscript, for myself at the very least, to see if I can make the story stronger.

I started with the synopsis (still under construction) and made some plot notes. Now I’m thinking, Is an entire rewrite in order?

Have you ever opened a blank document and rewritten the same story over again two or three years later? I did it once and the story came out so much better. I’m hoping the same thing could happen here. Only one way to find out.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Road Trip Research

I took another trip down the Natchez Trace Parkway this week with my research assistant/photographer (my daughter). There were a few stops on the 444-mile trek that I needed to revisit to clear up some setting details for my book.
One of the highest points in the state of Mississippi is at the Jeff Busby site. I thought we would have to take the hiking trail up to the overlook summit, but the park service has made it easy for everyone to see the beautiful view. You can drive right up to the area and park your car. For the more adventurous, there is a hiking trail down from the summit to the campground area. We hiked part of the way down the trail. I think my daughter would have happily hiked the whole way, but my failure to pack bug spray and knowing that the hike down was the easy part, made us turn back about halfway down the trail.

This is a photo of another hiker we saw at the top of the trail.

I am glad that I made it to the Jeff Busby site again. The convenience store and gas station previously located there is now closed. The pay telephone that was of great interest to my character in the first draft of my story has been removed from the site. There is good cell phone reception at the overlook point, something I would not have known without a visit.

For readers: Do you enjoy reading books set in real locations more than stories set in fictional towns?

For writers: Do you find it easier to write about real places or made-up locales?