Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Novel Revision Pt. 1

As I've said in previous posts, I know how authors are often interested in seeing how others work on their writing projects. I know I like knowing these little secrets. Because of this, I decided to share how I'm working on my revisions. I'm still early in the process (hence the Pt. 1 in the title of the post), but I'll share more in future posts as I get further along in the process. If this helps some people figure out a different way to revise, great. If not, at least you get a peak into my writing life.

The first thing I did was let the project sit unseen for a month. I've heard this is a great amount of time to give the project some distance, and it seems to work. Of course I remember writing it all, but it's not nearly as fresh as it would have been if I'd started revising right after finishing the first draft. The little bit of breathing room really does make it easier to tackle it with my trusty red pen.

After the waiting period, I printed out the manuscript and read it through. In this first read through, I changed very little. The only time my red pen touched the page was when I found a glaring spelling or punctuation error, most likely the result of a typo. The plan for the first read through was just to immerse myself into the story. I wanted to make sure it flowed, if there were any glaring holes, and if the beginning and ending worked. As I read, while I didn't touch much of the manuscript, I did take plenty of notes on how to make the story stronger.

Once I finished reading, I checked all of my revision notes, both the ones I took during that first read, as well as the ones I took while I wrote the first draft. With a fresh mind on my story, I was able to see which notes made sense and which were already taken care of (or didn't need to exist). I rewrote these notes on two separate pages. The first was notes on the overall story--things that didn't have a specific spot, but could be in any number of places in the manuscript. I'll keep this list handy at all times while I rewrite. The second list was ideas that go in certain parts of the story. I wrote these chronologically, and as I go through the manuscript I will add them.

This is actually where I am in the process. I'm starting my second read-through. As I read, I have a red pen, a blue pen, and a black pen, as well as both sets of notes and blank paper. In this read-through I'm not concentrating very hard on grammar or spelling or even word choice, but simply ideas. As I get to points in my notes that I want to add to my manuscript, I'll change it right on the page with my red pen if it's a small item. If it takes more, I'll write a number in blue ink where I want the change to go and complete the change on another piece of paper (labeling it with the page number and the number I put in blue). I'll go through the work until I'm happy I addressed all my notes.

That's where I am right now. When I finish this step, I'll still need to make sure the writing is tight and error free, so I still have a few read-throughs to complete. As I do get further in the process, I'll make another post to show how it's going. I hope you enjoyed a brief look into my revision process. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!