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Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Notes on Revision

As you may (or may not) recall from December, I've been reading Stephen King's On Writing. There are two major reasons why I'm still reading it. First, I went on a reading binge over winter break—7 books in 19 days—which was amazing, but I limited my reads mainly to fiction. Second, every time I pick up King's book and read a section, I want to grab my computer and write! Not too helpful in keeping up the reading stamina.

My latest insight from Mr. King has to do with WHEN to revise. He suggests leaving your baby on the sidelines until you've all but forgotten about it. It's the writer's version of the "old" adage, mentioned in the movie Swingers—she won't call until he's completely forgotten about her. King suggests a minimum of 6-8 weeks apart from your latest prodigal work.

I had promised myself at least a month away from my NaNo work before revising it, but over the break I cheated a little. I tried working on it one morning and I'll tell you, it was PAINFUL. The whole thing continually frustrated me. I didn't get very far, to say the least.

King also suggests working on something else in between the original write and the revising. Something that can easily fill in the time slot between draft 1 and draft 2. Something that's completely different from the original project in question. So I've been working on this new dystopian, post-apocalyptic YA mumbo-jumbo that, unfortunately, for the first time for me, has no set ending in my mind. I mean, the mental outline is coming along, developing some decent plot twists, and the basic stuff at the beginning isn't going to make or break the ending, but I'm in personal uncharted territory. And it's scary. And it's hard.

I'll push through, though. Don't worry.

But with all of this, the funny bit is that I did set aside something before NaNo, and I have all but forgotten about it. It didn't even occur to me to go back and revise it until I read this section in King's book. My first big piece (that doesn't fall into the FanFic category) is sitting on my hard drive, all but forgotten, waiting for me to come back and edit it up. I can read it as if it had been written by someone else, rip it up, and decide if I want to market it or not. I might be able to do a better job with fresher eyes.

So, to summarize:
  • Monarchy's Lies (currently in search of a new title): ready for the knife.
  • Demon (also in search of a new title): desperately needing some time on the sidelines.
  • Underground (working title, but, knowing me, it'll probably change): causing pain and anguish; still working on the mental outline; trying my hand at chapter 4.

What's your strategy for revising? Do you wait until you can look at a piece with "stranger's eyes" before revising? Do you have any revision secrets you can share?

4 comments:

Ted Cross said...

I've been revising my first book off and on for two years now with no end in sight, so I have no great insights to offer. *sigh*

BTW, I love On Writing!

Hart Johnson said...

You know something I VERY STRONGLY recommend before editing your own stuff? Do a beta read on somebody ELSES stuff. Spotting someone elses errors and tweaks helps you spot your OWN more easily, and reading for someone else helps you DETACH in the act of editing, so it is almost like it isn't even YOURS you come back to.

But I definitely wish you luck editing your first baby! (my first baby is due for a redress this year, too--I did 3 rounds when it was my ONLY baby, but I think I finally have a fresh approach that will get it there.

good luck!

Jan Morrison said...

Yep - I do the Stephen King thing but only for a month - 6 weeks is too long for me. It takes me about 14 times longer to write my novels then him so... Then I get a hard copy and sit down out of my office and read it like a...book! I might make some marks first time through but I try and make it a real quick read so I can get the whole of it in my brain. Then the work begins - revising is writing.
In between - well I just sent off two novels to my first readers and I went back to work on my 09 nano -I've got about 55 thou on it but a lot of it is FLAB - you know what I mean nanoer? That's why I'll never nano again - I'm too competitive and it is just a mess of fluff. But I like the basic story. I was going to work on my queries and so forth for the above two but I decided I needed some real writing - not revising, not selling.
enough...

Carol Riggs said...

It will be very interesting to see what you do with these! Especially since I've read MONARCHY and will get to read the others; I feel like I was a helper midwife on the birth or something. LOL

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