So here are Christine's Tips for Easy Revisions
1) Let your first draft sit on the shelf for at least two weeks
2) Send your first draft out to your CP
3) Play for the two weeks you are "off"
4) Read through your MS and be pleasantly surprised that the MS is near perfection
5) Do a quick hunt and search through the document for some pesky "echo words"
6) Double check your spacing and margins
7) Do a quick grammar check just to make sure you haven't missed anything
8) Layer in a few fun words just to up the word count
9) Quickly glance over your Synopsis and realize it's also near perfection
10) Print out the new document and start querying away.
APRIL FOOL'S DAY!
Yeah, like at what point did you all go, is Christine nuts? Or brilliant? Or none of the above?
Okay, parts of the revision process are true. Numbers 1-3 are about right for this current revision. However, after I wrote the first draft of this MS, I actually let it sit for 6 months.
Note: Do not do that to yourself. It is a BIG mistake. Trust me.
Note: This is the 4th major revision I'm doing on the current WIP.
When I sat down to work on this MS again, I did not JUMP into the waters. Why? I had just received major feedback from a published author at a critique session and there was problem with the TONE of the book. I had two tones equaling two stories equaling a HUGE NIGHTMARE to fix. AGAIN.
The truth is the idea of going back into this mangled mess and cutting out new scenes I'd just finished writing and adjusting the tone levels to meet my own desired direction as a writer is pretty much like asking myself to poke a fork into my eyeball.
Note: I'm not into inflicting pain on myself, internally or externally.
Note: I have learned many techniques to avoid facing pain.
Note: I am going to share these soul saving techniques with you.
Here's what I've been doing during my first official week back to writing.
1) I've cleaned my office, made new files and tossed tons of old MS pages (some were older than my Darling Daughter). You can read all about my de-cluttering adventures in my blog.
2) I've cleaned out the email inbox and made new calendars.3) I sat down, finally, and read through the entire MS.
4) I emailed my wonderful CP and apologized for transposing some of my scenes in Scrivener before compiling the document.
5) I also apologized for my horrendous grammar mistakes and promised never to do it again (okay, I lied--I will do it again--it's story revision, it's not time for copy edits).
6) I brainstormed a bit with my fabulous CP about the ending and certain bits that are problematic due to tone changes and cutting out a history for the hero.
7) I promised myself I would hit it hard -- as soon as I judged my contest entries for another RWA writing chapter and after I read through my CP's critique notes.
8) I proceeded to delay doing the two things that would clear the decks for me to get back to writing by signing up for Twitter and going for a long -- super long-- walk today.
9) I looked at my notebook for the current MS and groaned.
10) I decided my duties to Southern Magic's amazing blog were more important and must take precedence over the two things I need to do to clear the deck.
Note: I am a disciplined person. I've become incredibly adept at lofty procrastination methods.
Note: I'm stretching out this blog post just to avoid doing item number 7 on my list.
Okay, the point is, I know I have to revise. All writers know they have to revise. It's just not easy to wrap one's brain around going back into a WIP and fight for the story to emerge. This isn't line editing or hunting for echoing words. This is ripping out the guts, opening arteries and cutting mercilessly while adding new layers and depth to what will remain. THIS IS HARD WORK.
I will do it. But I long for the innocence of my first days as a writer. Back in 2004 when I sent my first book off to my friends, I thought revision WAS line editing (you can stop laughing now). I didn't have an outline for the book I wrote, I just wrote it. Or maybe it wrote itself. And I didn't have an RWA membership (thanks to the wonderful editor at Silhouette Desire for pointing me to RWA in his rejection letter), I didn't know about word counts, I looked it all up on line--and I was requested!! A full. Thankfully, as you can see by the above sentence, SD did reject that first MS.
But oh, I was still so innocent. I believed if I just figured out POV and had a clear black moment along with a detailed outline, well, I'd be on my way. Nope, and I didn't really revise that second book either. I did join RWA, started taking classes, CPs found me (thank God), joined local chapters, took online courses, read more books about writing. MY CPs forced me to revise my third MS and I'm glad they did. However, the more I have learned about writing, the LONGER IT TAKES ME TO WRITE A BOOK -- let alone be REQUESTED.
Talk about ironic. When I knew absolutely NOTHING, I got just as far as when I finally learned something about the craft of writing. But I'd never want to see that first book in print--LOVE BUILDS A CHANCE was proof that I could write an entire book, but it's not shelf worthy (trust me, I know).
Note: There is an excellent article in RWR's April edition about called WRITING INTO THE MIST that covers the way we intuitively write.
Note: I know my process now--it's not easy for me to admit it.
THE TRUTH ABOUT MY WRITING
I am a messy writer who needs boundaries. I need an outline, of sorts, and I need to know where I am going for the first draft, but then I just spill it out onto the pages. Then I go in, find the core of the story, listen to feedback and I carve away the first round of junk writing and off I go again. I gallop through my revision with the same gusto and churn out another draft. Then I send it out into the world and start getting feedback on the first pages (you know, that partial thing with the synopsis?). And ultimately, much to my chagrin, problems are pointed out to me. Back I go into the MS and so it goes.
Now I am on the 4th round of revisions. I feel the story emerging. Again. I am willing to do the work. I will do the work--in fact--after blatantly using this blog to procrastinate just a bit more, I am eager to start the work. I know once I get started, I will get that rush again. The thrill of solving the problem and joy of creating will take over and all will be well in my writing world.
How do you revise?
Note: I actually read through this blog and edited it lightly before posting--I believe I officially have earned the Queen of Procrastination Crown for the day.