Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm a Revision Geek

Having just gone through an intense revising process on my third book, the concept of “revisions” is hot on my mind these days. And you know what?

I think I, like Tracy, really love revisions!

See, I’m a “pantser” kind of writer. I start off with a general idea (sometimes VERY general—like, this book should be about a girl in high school and she meets some people and does some stuff) of where I’m going when I start to write. And it’s through the actual writing process that I uncover subplots, character quirks and neat plot twists. But, my goal is just to write the damn thing already.

I often chant, “Everything can be fixed in revisions,” while I’m struggling through the first draft. And, my first drafts also include things like, “Find way to make boyfriend laugh in this scene.” Because sometimes my brain is just so fried toward the end that some things are better left for the second stage.

After a celebratory drink or two when my MS is compete, I roll my sleeves up and try to make it sound like an actual book. I do a complete re-read, making notes on a pad of paper about subplots, consistencies and overall big-picture kind of stuff. I also find it really helpful to make a timeline of my book. Just basic bullet points of what happens in each scene.

Next, I start hacking away. The first thing I usually do is move scenes around, tighten up chapters and push as much action as possible into the first few chapters. I rely on my trusty timeline to be my guide. As in, “Hmm…there seems to be quite a lull in action in between bullet points 12-17.”

I also love to use index cards. Again, just another visual representation of the book. I write down each scene and lay them out in chronological order. Then, I place different colored dots for different subplots and plotlines on the cards. I stand up, take two steps back, and can see the holes once again.

So, I tinker some more. Then, I go back and do another complete re-read and fix the smaller stuff, like spelling, grammar and check on details like consistency with eye color and such.

Now, I could continue this post on-and-on, and talk about all of the cool office supply gadgets to assist in revisions, but I fear I’ll be exposing my Revision Geek a little too much. So, I’ll just suggest that everyone head out to their local Office Max, Office Depot and Container Store and see for themselves!

Oh, and try not to jump with glee when you see those whiteboards like, ahem, "someone" once did…


Jillian Cantor said...

Wow! I'm impressed by your organized and logical approach to revisions!! Mine tend to feel a lot messier and mostly are mapped out in my head or in scribbled notes on scraps of paper on my desk.

Tracy Madison said...

I, too, am impressed with your approach. Mine is a little different, but I tend to do the same basic things...just without the tools. I love your ideas though!