The Fancy Deep

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Revise & Keep Revising w/o Downing a Whole Bottle of Pills

Revising is hard for me. I'm the right-brained kind of writer. Moving into my left-brain is painful. But I MUST do it!

If revising is hard for you, here are some things I have learned that help keep me sane after many, many revisions.

1) Content First - Changes to plot, setting, character, technology, etc. always come first for me. If it's too overwhelming, I make a list and use that old "Search" feature to find areas that I know are relevant to the change. THEN, once the list is checked off, I go back through and make sure I've tied up all loose ends.

2) Emotion Next - This pass I try to read straight through looking for the emotional path (including peaks and valleys) of the book. I'll notch it back in some places and heighten in others. This needs to happen in a few days (can't set it down in between for long) so I try to block out time before starting.

3) Then Imagery
- The next pass I take is looking at HOW I've described each nugget in my book. I pay special attention to areas where I'm wordy or the image I've selected isn't strong enough.

4) Grammar & Such - This is the really painful one for me. And takes the longest. I make two passes here. I'm a little dyslexic and always miss things on the first pass (and sometimes on the second and third). I have to print it out on this round and I read it OUT LOUD! There is no substitute. Take the time to do it, or you will double or triple your work when it hits an agent or editor.

LAST TIP - Break it up:
The task of revising anything as long as a novel can stop you in your tracks. The secret: Break it up! A friend of mine does 50 pages at a time. I break mine up into the major acts, then rework that section before moving onto the next. This helps me see the emotional peaks and valleys and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed.

Find the best way to break yours up so you feel like you can attack it, not just stack it.

Have revision tips? Please share!


Angie said...

That sounds like a good system. Good luck with your revising!

Kristen Knight said...

Thanks Angie! How are you doing? What's your latest WIP?

Kate Coursey said...

Hi Kristen,

I came across your blog earlier this evening and I've had a lot of fun reading through your posts. I'm a newly-agented YA author from Utah, and I love this list of tips! I've been revising all summer (one book for my agent, one for my editor) and I'm ready to tear my hair out. Great advise!

Looking forward to more of your posts!


Hannah L. Clark said...

I do the three part act break up too. It's easier to keep the storyline straight that way. And, it's easier to do the layering thing as well--at least for me. Love ya! And that was some really great news on facebook about your book. Can't wait to hear all about it!