Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lost in the Revision Jungle by Marta Perry

I decided last night that I really shouldn't be blogging this month. I am deep into revisions on a book that is due June 1--so deep, in fact, that I can't see my way out and am slogging my way through, putting one foot in front of the other in the blind hope that I'll get there at last. But I promised I would, so here I am, blogging on the only thing on my mind--revision.

Probably writers are as unique in approaching revision as they are in other aspects of writing. Some writers produce a first draft that barely needs a touch (Snarl) while other produce something that is almost an outline rather than a book. I'm somewhere in between. While I'm writing my first draft, I jot down copious notes of all the things I should do, things I've forgotten to put in, and things I'm not sure of. For reasons known only to my subconscious, I start those notes on the last page of my notebook and work backwards.

When I've reached The End, of course it's not really that. Not yet. Now I must go back and incorporate in the manuscript all those things I've jotted down. Some may be as simple as changing a name; others may involved writing a new scene or moving a chapter. I try not to focus on the whole book at this point, or I might panic, something I do several times in the course of a book anyway.

My backpack feels a little lighter when I've finished that stage. Now I move on to reading the whole thing, making sure it all fits together with no untidy ends sticking out like an ill-made bed. Then it's on to reading for repetitions of words, phrases, or body language. Once I discovered that my characters nodded so much that they must have looked like bobble-head dolls. I check for consistency in descriptions, check chronology, and try to be sure I haven't left any trail of breadcrumbs that will lead the reader in the wrong direction.

Finally, when all the corrections have been keyed in, I give it a last read. At this point, I've lived so long with the story that I've lost the ability to judge whether it's decent or dreck. I take a deep breath, murmur a silent prayer, and hit Send. Then I go in search of chocolate.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think my character is lost in that troublesome scene in chapter ten. I'd better go try to rescue her.



EllenToo said...

Hope you found your heroine and rescued her from that awkward situation.
Just wanted to say I enjoy your books.

Cami Checketts said...

Best of luck with your revisions. I'm currently on revision 22 for my novel that is supposed to be released June 15th. I think I'd better find some chocolate before I hit send!
Thanks for the great article,

Debra Clopton said...

OH Marta I'm so with you on revisions. I have no clue by the time I send it in whether its any good or not. I can't judge it any more. I just tell our wonderful editor to tell me what she thinks and to know that I'm here waiting and willing to work out whatever she thinks. Praise the Lord for her!