October 3, 2011

revision party-time

Well, I’m in the middle of revisions, and they’re going a lot better than I thought they would. If you remember, I posted a comprehensive revision checklist about three weeks ago, and well, it turns out that I don’t follow it very well. Rather than do several readings for each section, focusing on one thing at a time, I’m just going through fixing things as I see fit, following my gut instincts. I just happen to examine and change several things at once. I think I work better that way.

I’ve already finished the first eight chapters, and my changes have ranged from word choice changes to sentence deletions and rewordings, from moving passages around to deleting entire scenes, and even rewriting of certain passages. I’ve changed plot points and descriptions, but mostly, I’ve deleted stuff. I’m a very repetitive writer, and most of the time, that comes across as me beating the reader over the head. The remedy is simple. Select. Delete. Moving on.

It’s going rather well. When I’m finished, it looks like I’ll cut anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words. I’ve already deleted 5400 in the first eight chapters. As it stands, there are only twenty-one chapters. But, I plan to add another, since my ending needs a lot of work. Deus ex machina is no bueno. So when I get to that point, I’ll have a lot of work to do, but it will be much better afterward. The chapter I’ll be adding was the planned first chapter for the sequel, but it will work better as the ending for the first book.

So that’s what I’m doing this week. Revising like a fiend. Once I’m done with the second draft, I’ll reorganize the scenes and herd them under new chapter headings (one of my chapters is less than 1000 words because of how much I deleted, and a few more are too short to stand on their own). Once that’s done, I’ll do another read-through and focus on the plot and big picture things, making sure everything is fluid. It’s hard for me to look at those things when I feel the need to change wording. I get so focused on sentence-level mistakes that I can’t focus on the big picture. Once everything is how I want it to read, then I can work on strengthening plot lines and character arcs. But first I need to get a good bare-bones of the story.

How do you revise?

Here's how I do it (note: yes, I do edit in boring, gray pencil):

these are my more heavy changes.

these are medium changes. some pages have no changes, or only a few words.

a non-blurry example!

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