April 18, 2012
How I Write A Novel Part Five: Revisions, Round One
We have come to what I know is the most important part of the novel writing process for me--revisions. This is where my story goes from a vague idea to a fully realized story. Once I'm done drafting and I've taken a day or two (or maybe five) to gather myself a bit and clear my head, I print out my entire rough draft-which is still not one document, but lots of scenes in different documents. I clip the pages of each scene together and attach a notecard to them where I list what happens in that scene (generally). I then lay all of the scenes out on the floor in the order I think they go in--which is the order I wrote them in-- and spend a few hours--or days--staring at them.
I'm looking for where I can make things tighter, which scenes would stand out more strongly if they were moved around and which scenes don't futher the plot at all and must be taken out. I make a note of any place in the story where there seems to be a hole or a lag or an action full stop and brainstorm how to fix them which could mean adding a scene, adding a new plot thread, or reworking a scene. These are always the big, giant changes at this stage and I go in with a hardened heart and a detached eye--not detached from my HEAD mind you, just EMOTIONALLY detached--which at this stage is easy because I'm mildly sick of the whole thing by now. I get out a separate notecard for each scene and make note of what I want to add, take away, or change. I also number it so I know where in the final document it'll land.
THEN I head back over to the computer and place them all in one document for the very first time. Now I could most definitely complete this entire process on the computer and I know some of you are able to do that rather successfully, but I am, unfortunately, very tactile during this entire process and something about printing it out and having it literally take up my entire floor, helps it feel real to me. I can't visualize what I need to do any other way, and believe me, I've tried.
Now I go back and add in what I need to and dun, dun, dun...send it out into the world to my crit partners--who by now have probably already read some of it, especially if I am feeling insecure and squirrely--and have them crit it. In the meantime, I try to do something short, start a new project--usually the research portion only---and generally steer clear of my WIP to give myself some breathing room. By the time my critters get back to me, I'm usually more than ready to dive back in (I'll detail revisions round two next post).
How about you? How do you structure your revision process? Drop me a comment and tell me all about it!