February 7th, 2009

tim gunn

The Tim Gunn in My Head

Project Novel

Tim enters the revision studio, dapper as always. “Good morning, everyone,” he says. “I’m here to check your progress.”

He approaches Lisa’s work space. “Tell me about this,” he says, eyeing the uneven pacing of the plot.

“Well,” says Lisa, “It’s a YA fantasy.”

Tim peers over his glasses at Lisa. “A fantasy? I thought you were planning to write another realistic YA contemporary."

“I did! I mean, I was. It … the spark is still there, but the premise was a little too edgy.”

“Too edgy?” Tim’s gaze is piercing. “So you just threw it away and started all over on something new?”

“No, no,” says Lisa, beginning to sweat. “I set it aside for now, but the characters are still very much alive in my head. I will finish it. But this —” She indicates the novel in question. “I love this story. I’ve worked on it sporadically for almost eight years.”

Tim studies the work-in-progress through his glasses. “Why is the pacing so uneven? And uh-oh. I see a loose plot thread.”

“Oh! I’m trying to clean that up,” says Lisa. “The pacing, that is. I didn’t notice the loose thread. Oops! Thanks for pointing it out to me.”

“And this scene concerns me. Isn’t the dialogue between the main character and her parents a little young-sounding?”

Lisa peers closer at the scene. “Hmm. I see what you mean.” She gives him an apologetic smile. “It started off as a middle grade novel. I rewrote it for a YA audience. Whew! What was I thinking? Pretty much every line had to change. I guess this scene didn’t change enough.”

Tim studies the project for another long moment. “I’m just worried,” he says finally.

Lisa is worried now, too.

“I’m concerned you may be taking on something too ambitious,” he says. “I see the contemporary realism here —” He points. “And I see the homage to classic fairy tales here —” He points again. “But the length of the narrative must increase to accommodate the new characters here.” He indicates the last third of the book. “Do you see what I mean?”

Lisa nods. “Yes. Yes! I’m planning to develop those relationships in more depth.”

“Good.” Tim continues to frown at the piece. “How comfortable are you with world-building? Because you realize this will fall apart under scrutiny, don’t you?”

Lisa swallows.

“Not to mention the research still required to strengthen the base. Your details will unravel if the facts are incorrect. God is in the details,” he says with a smile.

“I have books,” says Lisa faintly.

“Books? Books are excellent, of course. But what about first-hand anecdotal information?”

“I have that, too. Three different sources.”

“Good.” He beams at her. “All right, then. Make it work.”

I'm trying, Tim. I'm trying.