Monday, October 24, 2016

Revising Update

I think I've found my revising groove. There are three tasks to complete for each chapter:

1) Read chapter, make notes on the chapter.

2) Make those changes to the chapter in the MS.

3) Read the chapter out loud to smooth any awkward wording or cut-and-paste boo-boos.

It's kind of nice, because these three things are all pretty different, so I can pick whatever I'm most in the mood to do and make progress. So if I'm like, "Ugh, I don't feel like writing words today," I can just read and make notes on the next chapter.

So far I've made notes on the first 6 chapters, and made the changes to the first 3. I haven't done any of the reading-out-loud part yet.

The first chapter needed a lot of work, and will probably need a lot more smoothing in the read-through. But the subsequent chapters have gone much more quickly. So far, it looks like my first draft was pretty clean!

In the exercises I did before I began the revision, I identified one scene that will need to be cut and replaced with a new one, but that may wind up being the only new scene. We'll see once I get to the dreaded third quarter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

First Contact With the Enemy

So, good news: I don't think it's too soon to be reading the book. I ripped the first chapter apart (which was no surprise-- the first few chapters always need a ton of revision), and felt like I knew what I was doing and what the chapter needs to be stronger.

Not really "bad" news-- more like "hmmmm" news: I'm having a difference of opinion with myself about the sequence of the revision steps. My original idea was that I'd read and make notes on the entire draft, then make those changes in the Scrivener file. Now that I've made notes all over chapter one, however, I'm wanting to go edit the chapter now, while my idea of what needs to be done is fresh  in my mind. So I think that's what I'm going to do-- for now, at least.

Revision: Step Nine

Okay. Deep breath.

Today I start reading the book. Up until now, I've been pretty confident as I work my way through these revision steps, but from here on out it gets mad murky, yo. I don't know if this is too soon for me to be reading and I should be waiting a few months for it to get colder. I don't know how long it's going to take me. I don't know how extensive the notes will be. I don't know exactly where I'm going to work or exactly what my process will be. That's a lot to not know about something I'm starting in half an hour, and it's making me anxious.

Here's what I do have:

1) A printed copy of the MS. I decided not to hole-punch and bind it this time, because in the past I've found that a cumbersome way to work. Instead, I've stapled each chapter and stuffed the whole thing back into the plastic bag from the copy shop.

2) 30+ pages of notes, including the "to add" list I made as I wrote, exercises, research notes, and a new and improved timeline.

3) Colored pens, sticky note tabs, highlighters, a notebook, and a clipboard.

4) A vaguely-articulated idea that I shouldn't be reading the book in the same places I wrote it. In order to see it fresh, the argument goes, change as much as you can. If you wrote the book on a screen, read it on paper. Change the font and the margins. Read it in different physical locations than where you wrote it. I wrote Mender probably 80% in the quiet reading room of the library, 15% on my living room couch, and 5% in the back seat of my car in the parking lot of The Son's school. I'm going to try reading in several places this week, but for today it's gonna have to be the library because I'm tutoring there later and I don't feel like scampering around town. I'll try sitting at a table, which I almost never do to write. (For some weird reason, I can't write fiction if my feet are touching the ground. True story.)

5) A tentative revision approach, open to much revision of its own if it hinders more than it helps. The sequence:

a) Read the chapter. Okay to make quick corrections of typos or whatever, but restrain from making extensive notes. Try to just read it.

b) Jot down my overall impressions. Anything not working? Do I need more or less description? Are the characters coming off the way I want? Make notes on the MS of where to add/delete or tweak.

c) Review my notes-- what from the list can be addressed in this chapter? Make notes showing where to add.

d) Rinse and repeat 35 more times.

Wish me luck! I've allotted myself 15 days for this step, but who the heck knows.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Revision: Step Eight

Last step before I dig into the nitty-gritty of revising! Today my only task is to gather all the notes and materials I need for tomorrow. I've already printed out 19 pages of notes, and I probably have another 20 or so of handwritten notes to pull out of my notebook. I also have a red pen, 2 highlighters, a clipboard, and a pack of those little tab-like sticky notes. I feel like a soldier preparing for a very strange battle.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Revision: Step Seven

I have what I think is very close to a final query done. I also have a version of the synopsis that is too long (1,300 words) and probably too plodding, but at least accurately reflects the content of the book. There's a reason everyone hates writing synopses: if you've tightly woven your plot, it's hard to leave anything out. For example (and being very vague): in one climactic scene, Mary frees herself from a seemingly impossible situation using tools and information she got during an encounter with a minor character much earlier in the book. If I don't explain that she has these tools and information, her escape comes off as simplistic and dumb, but in order to explain I have to include this earlier, seemingly-insignificant encounter in the synopsis. Bleah. It's good enough for now.

Step Seven is to re-read all the character and worldbuilding work I did before I started the draft, and make any corrections so I have an accurate story Bible. I also need to make a firm timeline using the actual days of the week from 1851/1852. I've allotted two days for this.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Revision: Step Six

Step six is to write my query and synopsis. I have a solid draft of the query that just needs some fiddling, and I have an old version of the synopsis I wrote a year ago, back when I was doing the story building work for Mender. I'm sure the story has deviated quite a bit from what's in it, so that will need quite a lot of work-- but I least I have the framework to hang the changes on, rather than having to build the whole thing from scratch.

I've allotted two days for this step.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Revision: Step Five

The next step is to plot out what happens in book 2 of the series (title: Maker). I did a little of this back when the laptop was in the shop, but now I've allotted two more days to get a rough sketch of the plot.