Sunday, April 2, 2017

Revision. Revision. Revision.

Dear Kim,

Thank you for the lovely letter recapping our time together last weekend. I want to write to you about our book XO, OX, but something sucked all my brain power and I can't seem to focus on anything else. The only thing I am thinking about is...

Revision.


You've heard those writers proclaim: "I love revision."
Or: "To be a writer, you must revise."
Or: "The work is in the revision."

Well, I agree with statements 2 and 3.
But statement number one? Hmm.
That writer probably likes tofu more than chocolate cake. They probably like getting to work "on time" and always leaving the house "showered".

Or maybe I am just insanely jealous of any writer who claims to love revisions? I struggle with them. We wrestle like siblings over the remote. But, I've gotten better over the last year. Office supplies help. So does Natural Reader. And a tip from Darcy Pattison.

I've had three pretty big revision projects to tackle over the last six weeks. (As I type out the words "six weeks" it looks like a long amount of time, though it felt like the blink of an eye.)

I think there comes a point when revision isn't just tinkering around or re-drafting. It's like your intentionality shifts from this thing COULD work to THIS THING IS GOING TO WORK, DAMN IT!

Thank you, Inner Drive.
While I would like to say I am a GOOD reviser, my early statements have likely given away that I fit into Inner Drive's BAD box.
Up late. ✓
Cram revisions. ✓
Focus on worst case scenarios. ✓✓

But maybe there is hope for me yet.

When I am ready to tackle a big revision I first grab my office supplies.
I like to make a plot map of some kind. Lately I'm obsessed with Carrie Howland's radial plotting. But that might be because:
A.) Radial plots fit neatly on one page so I can see the whole story in one snapshot.
and B.) Carrie Howland makes everything better.

Radial Plot for KILLER

This is a scene by scene map. When I want to go back in for specific notes (say, looking for moments that my MC is body conscious) I can go in and find them quickly. I get a sense visually of how spread out the moments are and where they are in relation to the climax.

Next I will use Darcy Pattison's trick of printing out a miniature version of my manuscript. I think Darcy calls it the shrunken manuscript. Here I'll go back to the spots I've identified on the plot map (above) and write revision notes. Like this:


See how tiny the type is. I really have to force my old eyes to look at each word.
This is a messy revision.
Cutting.
Moving words/phrases/scenes.
Asking questions.
Considering how to make it work, damn it. (Am I the only one thinking of Jack Bauer here?)

From there I go back into the most recent draft on my computer and start working on my revision notes. Each of the above steps might happen for a specific note. Like the body conscious notes or relationship building notes or setting notes.
For each one I will go to the plot map first,
then print out a mini-manuscript,
then go into the most recent draft.

I guess I like this part. I like seeing the revisions in print and on the plot map. There is something about the visual aspect that really appeals to me.

From here, I go into my Natural Reader application. My best pal Heather reads the entire novel back to me at 2x speed. While she reads I have another mini-manuscript in front of me. I pause her reading and make notes on the manuscript. Hit play, then pause again and again as I need to take notes. This is time consuming, but I like hearing the novel.

I like the audio revisions and visual revisions. Wait, maybe I like revising?
Quick! Send chocolate. I am having an existential crisis. 🍫🍫🍫

From the Natural Reader revisions I go back into the most recent draft. The cycle repeats as many times as needed: plot map to mini-manuscript to Natural Reader...

Then I send it to my first reader, YOU!
More readers.
More feedback.
More chocolate.

Update: I am up to the Natural Reader part for this round of revisions, which means that you, my darling first reader, should have a fully revised manuscript in your inbox early next week. Yay! 🎉

What tips do you have for revision?
Are you a GOOD reviser or a BAD reviser?
And, be honest, do you love it or hate it?

Yours,
Alison