It never fails. When I need direction along it comes on the Writers Forum, and sometimes I don’t even need to do the asking. Jennifer H., bless her, started a thread on the revision process a couple days ago, asking members to chime in on how they go about it. And Barbara Rogan–bless her every bit as much–gave us the short version of the revision process she has used for her previously published novels (8 to date), and which she teaches in her online writing Workshops. The list is methodical, which resonates with me, a methodical girl at heart.
Her revision process begins by addressing the big issues–opening, ending, subplots, structure, tension level–issues I’ve been attempting to tackle in KINDRED over the past few weeks. I’d add pacing to that list.
Then themes are examined, strengthened and clarified.
The list of edits goes on, from the macro to the micro (sentence by sentence language level edit being the final polish).
However… before any editing begins, the novel is put away out of sight for a month or more. I sorta-kinda skipped this step with KINDRED. I say kinda, because my cooling off time was something closer to a week. Even before I read Barbara’s post today, I wondered if I should have left it cooling longer. I wonder that even more now.
Back to Barbara’s revision method: after the cool off period comes a read through of the entire manuscript in hard copy, “to get a feel for the flow, or lack thereof, of the story.” Another step I skipped.
And since I’m struggling with these opening chapters, I’m considering backing off a bit and giving the story a read through in hard copy. Resisting the urge to edit as I go. Marking spots that obviously need attention. Taking notes for revisions, but not doing them until I reach the end.
Perhaps I’m only desperate to get away from these first chapters for a bit….
This post sat in draft for a day. I’ve since had new ideas for how to proceed with Chapter Three. I still plan to print off the whole manuscript and read it through, sans editing, before I do too much more hacking and rearranging of the early section.
All in all I’m feeling much more optimistic today. Nothing like a dose of direction to lift the spirits.
Happy New Year all!
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