Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Art of Revisions

Revisions. Edits. The deconstructing of your novel just to turn around and put it back together again. Hopefully, better, tighter, more focused.

We all have to do it, as much as we dream of being able to write a first draft that is brilliant and perfect. So how do you do it? What’s your method?

There are tons of great workshops on the subject out there, each one a bit different but all with the same goal: to help you revise your manuscript. I highly recommend Margie Lawson’s Deep EDITS and Empowering Characters Emotions. These two classes really help you dig deep.

For myself, I try to follow Margie’s method. It involves 5 different colored highlighters. This is great for you school supply junkies.  This really helps you see what you’ve got and what you don’t have. Once you know this, you have a starting point.

Then she gives you tons of rhetorical devices to pump up the power. You’ve seen these used and probably used some yourself, whether you knew it or not.

Of course we have to check for over-used words. We all have our favorites. I keep a list on my corkboard of mine.

Do you read your manuscript out loud? It’s a great way to see how well it flows. Especially the dialogue. Something that sounds funny or witty in our head can bomb when uttered aloud.

I’m finishing up revisions on Out of the Shadows this week (Yay!) and it will be heading out to critique partners next. It got me thinking about the process though. There are as many different approaches as there are writers. They can be time-consuming and draining, but the exhilaration at reading through the finished product and seeing how much stronger the story reads makes it worth it. Right?

So how do you approach revisions? Do you take some time off and then hit it? Do you just start back at the beginning and work your way through it? Do you let critique partners see it so they can offer suggestions? How many times do you generally make a pass over your manuscript? I’d love to hear your own methods.

Don’t forget – Blogmania is tomorrow and Thursday. Don’t miss out on your chance to win a ton of great prizes.


Gale Stanley said...

Just stopped by to say:
Hi, I love your blog and I have an award for you. You can pick it up at http://galestanley.blogspot.com/

Denise said...

Hi Riley! Advance Congrats on getting the revisions for OOTS completed this week. I should be so lucky with Collector's Item! Good post on a very difficult part of the process. Nice suggestions and reminders about things I've learned, but failed to apply. *sigh* Revisions! A week-long slog through a mud bog with a swarm of mosquitos would be easier. Wait...well...no, that's pretty much it. Actually, I start on revisions as soon as I put The End on the last page. Usually, the story's changed enough that I need to go back and tweak sections while it's still solid in my mind. I've got critique partners reading the whole thing as we go along, so, thankfully, most of the nits are taken care of as it progresses. As for number of passes? However many it takes. No, seriously and in the best case scenario, I do two (writing as I go) and then 1 final (just a read-through) before it gets thrown to out into the cold cruel world. Oh, and I do inflict it upon some kind soul to "beta" read from front to back. I look forward to reading what other folks do and gleaning ideas.

Denise Golinowski

Rachel Brimble said...

Hi Riley,
This is my first visit to your blog but I have to say how much I love your site - designed by Rae Monet, by any chance???
Revisions...I love revisions, it's my favourite part of writing! Having pages to edit rather than 200 + blank ones is always a bonus. The best revision tip I have been given is to go through your MS and delete every possible 'that' - at least two thirds of them will be redundant.

Rachel x

PS: How do you get the word counter on the right hand side of your blog?

Caroline Clemmons said...

Didn't you just redo your blog? It's gorgeous!

Enjoyed the interview.

Lilly Gayle said...

I think I prefer revisions over writing! I guess that's because once I get to revisions that means I've actually finished another story. lol! I do read aloud and I search for the word "that" "just" "very" and "even" and remove as many instances of those words as possible because they're usually not needed. I also do a search for "ly" words and remove those or use a stronger verb that doesn't require an adverb in it's place.

LaVerne Clark said...

Well - I've just sent my edits back to my editor, so I'll have to wait and see if she approves of what I've done! Then I'll feel more qualified to comment : )

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