I went to the Willamette Writer’s Meeting last night to hear Susan Fletcher speak. She gave her 25 tips on the writing life based on 25 years in the business. Many of them I knew, and knew deeply, but a few I needed to hear again.
In the middle of her tips, though, she said something that really encapsulates my last year of revising. “Every story you write expresses your view of the world and how you live in the world.” I’ve learned this through several rounds of revision, and the deletion of tens of thousands of words (and two whole characters).
You see, my novel started out as the basic story of a Aine, a girl who is born in our world, brought over to the Fairyland, and returns to our world to find out what happened to her family. In my first few drafts, I explored basic themes. Love, hate, family. As I revised, I tried to build my main character – to give Aine feelings. To make her real. Yet, I discovered as I was writing that she wasn’t really someone I would want to hang out with. Or, more importantly, someone I would really want to read about. Damn.
So in my next big revision, I focused on making her less naive. Stronger. The kind of woman I want Rowan to know. I thought about how I want him to see women – to understand them – even if he won’t be reading this for years. I want him to see woman as his equal – able to say or do anything (and this is fantasy, so I really mean anything!).
Aine changed. And as she did, I realized she wouldn’t be in love with the man I had written for her. He was controlling, protecting, unrelenting. And Aine was better than that.
In a series of small revisions and big changes, Declan has disappeared from the book. He has in no way been replaced, but what’s left behind in the story is Aine. Spirited. Determined. Tough. And a better reflection of my view of women in this world.