Skip to main content

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

Popular posts from this blog

The Querying Writer: Part II

Dear Kim,


Remember that letter I sent you way back in October? (You remember October-- back when all things seemed possible.) 





The letter, COMP TITLES and THE QUERYING WRITER, shared details from our Novel Nuts & Bolts class with Empire Literary Agent Carrie Howland. (I may have referred to her as "agent-extraordinaire" in another post.)

Though today's post will be my third about Carrie, it is titled "Part II" because my querying journey seems sequel worthy.







I started looking for an agent soon after you and I met at the NYC SCBWI conference in 2012. I had nice feedback from an agent at a conference and sent him my work. His response was kind (which I've found most responses from agents to be.) But my writing wasn’t ready. The novel he saw was the first I’d ever finished. I wasn't ready.

I swallowed that little voice that said, SEND! SEND! SEND! for two more years until I entered #PitchWars-- Brenda Drake’s crash course in pitching. In the years between t…

Cover Reveal: The Perfect Trip by Stacy Barnett Mozer

Dear Alison,

Thank you for my letter on Friday. I was teaching and didn't get to read it until late Friday night, but oh the memories of our time at the Writing Barn...so wonderful, so peaceful, so inspiring. The retreat was a much needed break from the insane fall I've had, and though we worked our butts off, it was a different kind of work, a good kind of work, my favorite kind of work, and sharing that work with you and Donna? Yeah, that was awesome. I, too, was really able to dig into my WIP and find Gigi's voice. She's so different from Starr and with so much prep work on Starr Lost (Book Two) and Starr Gone (Book Three), I had a hard time recapturing Gigi's voice, but Texas changed all that. Her 'in your face' style sets the tone for the entire young adult urban fantasy series, and I can't get her defiant nature out of my head. (People, you've been warned.)

Alison, you and I get to share the writing love every Monday and Thursday. Today, I ge…

BOOK REVIEW: Starr Fall & BOOK RELEASE: Once & Forever

Dear Alison,

Goodbye January, Hello February! Last week, I let everyone peak in my drawers.  Today, I'm opening my inbox. Well, not literally. You DO NOT want to see my inbox--though I do try to keep all the accounts very tidy--sometimes the emails get a bit, what's the word I'm looking for? Expansive. My favorite emails are from fans. I LOVE them. They make me all warm and fuzzy. Seriously, touch my arm...

See? Warm and Fuzzy. Oh, wait those are my doggies;)

While, I ADORE the fan mail (I DO, I REALLY DO) I would LOVE them even more if they were added as a review to AMAZON and GOODREADS. For instance, look at some of these reviews:


Must Read!!!, January 31, 2017 By  Kelly

This review is from: Starr Fall: Book One of the Starr Fall Series (Kindle Edition) Purchased this book for my 14 year old daughter who is NOT a fan of reading for pleasure or at all for that matter. Well, the book immediately grabbed her attention. In her words..."I can't put this book down. I ne…