Figure Skating and the Art of Novelling

Yesterday I printed off the draft of my novel, which I completed in November, and had all 110 pages bound at Staples. With the pitter-patter of excitement in my heart, I stood in line at Starbucks, ordered a venti Americano, and sat down in a chair to read it…my very first full-length manuscript.

I am a huge fan of figure skating, so bear with me.

Have you ever seen a skating program, so beautiful, so lyrical, it simply draws you in? The skater has great jumps, sure, but you don’t even care about the technically amazing things she can do because the program in its entirety is so lovely you don’t want it to end. It tells a story.

Then the next person gets on the ice and she has incredible jumps. She jumps better than the skater before her, in fact. But in between, she sort of flails around, doing a whole lot of nothing. You’re bored. You wish the other skater would come back on the ice. Eventually, you get up and go to the bathroom because you have to pee and this skater is a real snore.

I think my novel is more like the second skater. It has some interesting, wonderfully descriptive parts. But in between there’s a lot of skating around the ice, doing nothing.

At the end of November I so loved my main character, I thought for sure I wanted to revise it. Now, I am not so sure.

Where to go from here…
Well, I received an email today from Writer’s Digest with an article on how to begin revising a novel. I plan to study it thoroughly. 

Note: Just for fun, you win the prize if you can identify the skater is in the photograph AND what program she was skating…

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Burly
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 20:07:42

    In case I’m not too late, Nancy Kerrigan skating to “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. I’m 50% sure of the first part of my guess and 99.98763% unsure of the second part of my guess.


  2. dayner
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 14:29:55

    oh and it looks like Katarina Witt but I have no idea what she is skating too.


    • kathanink
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:18:33

      You are also incorrect! 🙂 I’ll give in and tell tomorrow, and you’ll probably all be like, “who??”


  3. dayner
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 14:28:31

    I usually agree with Chris Baty, but he is no God. Everyone has their opinions and I think Uninvoked has a good point. If you feel too attached you won’t change anything. You need to be able to see the problems so you can fix them. I say keep going Kathan. If anything you’ll learn something while doing the editing. Also–do not give up until you have more people read it–like me!!! I want to read it and if you toss it I’ll never get the chance.


    • kathanink
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:17:21

      Ok, ok…yes, I do realize that Baty is probably sort of wrong. I mean, he’s probably sort of right, but there are people in this world who will always be super down on what they write (like me), whether it’s good or not. So to say “you need to love it when you read it” is – well, it’s lost on me.

      I doubt I’ll ever LOVE what I wrote. Tolerate is probably better. And if I learned anything from my years of corp writing is that nearly everything has to be rewritten (or at least heavily revised).


  4. uninvoked
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 10:49:03

    If you still love every word of your rough draft when going back to look at it, you haven’t waited long enough. A rough draft is like an artists first pencil sketch, which if you look is almost entirely circles and squares and general shapes. Most of the time you can only just barely tell its a fleshed out stick figure of a human—or its going to be eventually. Writing is the same way. Now that you can see it for what it really is, you can edit it into that perfect finished draft everyone wants to read.


    • kathanink
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 12:01:03

      Thanks for visiting my blog AND for your encouraging words! I had read somewhere that I should wait a month read my mss,then if I still loved it enough to spend the next year revising it, I should go for it.

      It turns out I don’t “love” it; I still think it’s a good story, just horribly written in most parts. Your words have helped to encourage me to press on!


    • Natasha
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:28:40

      Uninvoked — I think you are right that I haven’t waited long enough with my rough NaNo draft. I sure don’t love every word, but I like chunks of it.

      Of course, there is total drivel as well, and lots of it….


  5. darksculptures
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 10:46:36

    I don’t have a clue on the figure skater. But man she can portray emotion on ice.

    How cool you had your novel bound! I just threw mine in a three ring binder.

    The more I read my novel, the more I think there is something there. It’s creepy and dark, but I like the way it gets into the character. I’m not saying I have some editing and re-writing to do, but for a first draft I think I did above “pretty good”.


    • darksculptures
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 11:21:17

      “I’m not saying I have some editing and re-writing to do”

      I obviously forgot the word DON’T… I’m not saying I DON’T have some editing and rewriting to do.

      See what happens when you get four hours of sleep.


    • kathanink
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 12:09:27

      I knew what you meant! And don’t be impressed by the binding…it’s a comb bind with a plastic cover that cost me $3. But I wanted to have in something so I can work on it and it doesn’t turn into a mess (plus I don’t have a 3-hole punch, etc, etc).

      I am so intrigued at what our strengths. You said you love the characterization of your story. As I read mine, the one thing I kept thinking is I was really bad at characterization. Good on descriptive scenes, okay on plot and dialogue in places…terrible on character. I walked away thinking at points, “why should I even care about this person?” It’s definitely something I need to work on.

      Congrats that you can say “pretty good” about yours. I am always very critical of my own writing when I go back and look at it, so I don’t have a clue what it is! I am going to have to depend on others to tell me, I think.


      • darksculptures
        Jan 06, 2010 @ 14:32:05

        Well when I said above pretty good, I was using crap as the comparison. It may be a little to dark for most. I’m not sure I want you guys to read the whole thing. It’s that dark and not a book any of you would normally purchase.


        • kathanink
          Jan 06, 2010 @ 16:42:32

          I am intrigued! Actually, I am still ruminating on how to get our group started. I am hoping to draft a plan in the next week and send it to all of us so we can decide what we want to do/how to do it.


  6. Natasha
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 08:22:49

    Y’know, after I yakked yesterday about how much I liked my NaNo novel, I stopped reading it. I got scared.

    I’m pretty sure that I’m going to turn the page and find myself at that part where I get up to go pee since I’m bored.

    So I bought a binder and I’m going to tackle the whole thing with my 3-hole punch and stick it in.

    Then maybe I’ll start reading again.

    I don’t follow figure skating. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan are the only names I know and I’m pretty sure the pic isn’t either of them.


    • kathanink
      Jan 06, 2010 @ 10:26:57

      So you didn’t finish it? You should just do it. I panicked about halfway through, stopped for a few hours and went back to it later and finished. It got better in parts and I actually found two whole chapters that I would probably hardly touch in a rewrite (which was encouraging because the novel in general was pretty bad).

      My husband knows the entire story (though he’s only read the 1st ch.) and he really thinks I should work on it. He said it’s a very good story and I had some decent elements in the first chapter. So I think I’ll do it. But I don’t LOVE it like Chris Baty said I should. 😦


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