Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Kelly Barnhill is RIGHT.

Some time last year, I took part in a panel discussion at the Minnesota Historical Society about writing science fiction/fantasy.  It was me and "the two Kellys," Kelly McCullough and Kelly Barnhill (and moderated by the always-fabulous Jody Wurl).  Jody did her best to tease out more than the usual topics despite the rather broad subject of the panel and we were having a jolly old time talking about all aspects of writing.  Then, someone from the audience asked about the revision process, to which Kelly Barnhill admitted that  her strategy went like this:

"I open up my novel and hit, 'Select-All, Delete.'"

Kelly McCullough and I laughed nervously, and then did a classic double-take, "Wait, what?  SERIOUSLY????"

Yes.

It turns out Kelly Barnhill's method for revision is to completely delete her novel (yes, she means all of it, all 80,000 words) and rewrite it FROM SCRATCH. 

The other Kelly and I sputtered incoherently for several minutes, and number of writers in the audience had a complete heart attack at this thought.  I mean, from the bloodless look on his face, I'm not sure Michael Mirriam will ever quite recover from the shock.

But today, I get it.

I've been banging my head against the keyboard for a week trying to tease out a plot for this military science fiction proposal I'm trying to write, and it's time.

It's time to hit 'Select-All, Delete.'

Okay, so I'm nowhere near as brave as Ms. Barnhill.  I think I will probably secretly save what I've written in under a different name and stash it in the far-corners of my proposals file.  I also am losing less than 2,000 words.  But, the principle is the same.  This is not working.  I need a complete do-over.  I'm dumping the whole thing and trying agian.

So, yeah, there are times when Kelly Barnhill is RIGHT.

1 comment:

Juli Hoffman said...

WOW!!!!! That may be the bravest leap of faith I have ever heard! I'm sure the next draft is much better...but WOW!