Lost in Revisions

Well, I’m not lost narratively. I’m lost in the process and haven’t been posting much blog-wise. I’m actually enjoying it. Tightening things, getting stuff just right. I think I might have rushed the end because I was looking forward to diving back in from the start.

Yeah, I’m strange. Maybe a bit sadistic.

Having never done this before for a piece so long, I’ve been stumbling through it a bit. My first step was to hand the manuscript to a few trusted critiquers and let them pick it apart. Not so much a line-edit crit but a structural critique. During that time, I focused on a short story, spent time with family, caught up on other priorities (the tax man cometh…) and pushed the novel to the back of my brain.

That was tough. I’ve been writing this story for nearly a year now. Everyday I’d carve out some little bit of time to add pieces here and there. It became something like eating, sleeping, breathing. It was an acquired habit. I never obsessively worked on it mind you. It was always two to three hour spurts during the day after I’d sifted through e-mails, responded to clients, done things around the house, run errands. Even that seemed like preparation though. Like I was cleansing my mental palate so I could focus exclusively on the book.

It’s hard to stop thinking about a thing like that. In fact, not thinking about it makes you want to think about it even more.

20_foot_novelMy next step was to make a giant mess. I rolled out a twenty foot sheet of wallpaper and made a post-it note for every scene in the book (I think there were 86). On each, I listed a name for the scene, the characters involved, the word count, and finally notes about the objectives of the scene.

I also color-coded things. Weird dream sequences got blue, key points got orange, the bulk of the novel got yellow and green was for scenes where I would break away from the protagonists POV. I used the space above for notes and created a graph of the critical points, rising action, etc.

Bad news, was the post-its didn’t stick very well and started coming off after a couple weeks. Good news was it was an awesome way to spot trouble areas. I use Scrivener so I can approximate this in that program, however I’m a very visual person so being able to step back and see it all lined up was extremely helpful. I spotted two big trouble spots as far as word count and lack of momentum and was also able to rethink the arrangement of several scenes in the overall scheme of things.

Overkill? Yeah, probably. But you know, it worked and it gave me a way to interact with my story without being glued to a computer screen.

What methods do you use when revising?

Categories: Articles

1 reply

  1. My revision “method”
    Steps 1-47 : Cuss a lot and procrastinate.
    Step 48 : Cuss a lot while turning your computer on.
    Step 49 : Get password wrong, lock yourself out, cuss a lot.
    Step 50 : Fix the problem, get logged in, open document, roll face across keyboard.

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