Tools for revision

So, using FedExKinkos’ PrintOnline service, I printed out my entire first draft for Dexter Moon, as well as my current working draft for I-10. Dexter Moon ended up coming in at 192 pages, and I-10 is 182 pages–Courier New 11-pt, double spaced (I knocked the font size down to save a bit on the cost. It’s still perfectly readable!). Altogether, it only cost $30 to print the two of them, which I figured was worth it since I don’t have access to a reliable printer. Plus, they each came in their own manuscript boxes, which is kind of exciting, in a geeky way. 

My plan now is to spend the next few weeks working on I-10, my 2006 NaNovel (and 2007 AugNovel), which is different from Dexter Moon in some big ways, particularly tone and POV (I-10 rotates between three first-person POVs). Also, it’s not finished, though I’d guess that probably a week or so of writing 1000-2000 words a day will get me to the end. 

But first, I’m going to read it. And reread it. And then maybe read it again.

I happen to like Holly Lisle’s One-Pass Revision Workshop, which I read ages and ages ago, and, because I read her blog (daily) have often seen how she puts into practice. I’ve never actually tackled a big revision like this before, but I like the idea of putting the big picture first and foremost, and mostly, not doing endless writing and rewriting and polishing. She advocates fixing what needs fixing, and leaving alone what doesn’t. 

I think some of it comes down to confidence in your own writing. I remember the first few times I did NaNoWriMo, or really, wrote any sort of fiction, and I had this feeling, as I was typing… It’s hard to describe, but it was as if half of my brain was writing, and the other half was reading what I was writing, and almost couldn’t believe that it could be that simple, that I could just make up these people, and what they were saying, and doing, and, and… There was an excitement to it, but also a kind of fear, and horror. What if it wasn’t good? I mean, really, what did I know? Who was I, to create these imaginary people and run their lives for them?

Eight years later, I have a certain amount of confidence in my ability to write, and to write well. I know that my first draft isn’t perfect, by any means, but I’ve become very confident in my writing style, which is heavy on the dialogue, (my aunt was looking through my printed manuscript, and said, “wow, you have a lot of dialogue!”) and not so heavy on beautiful imagery, poetic language, or long descriptive passages. I like that Holly Lisle gives you permission to have pristine, untouched, unedited pages, because they don’t need editing.

Anyway, going around the NaNoWriMo Writing 101 forum, there’s a link to a great article called an Editing Recipe, written by a NaNoWriMo participant. It’s the same kind of big picture style editing, and I think what it does is break down what Holly Lisle does in one pass into several steps that still result in only doing one major edit. And it starts with a lot of reading of your work, several times over, to get a feel for it, a sense of the pacing and flow, to check for problems and incontinuity, before starting any sort of real edits, so that the edits you make only need to be done once.

So, that’s what I’ll be doing this December. A few days to read, take notes, come up with a new ending, and then, write that new ending. I’m going to give myself until, say… December 10th for that. Then that leaves me 21 days to do edits. It would be great to get that done in December. 

And in January, once it’s had time to rest, I’ll go back to Dexter Moon.

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2 thoughts on “Tools for revision

  1. I see your word count is over 55k! Congratulations! (:

    I’m still trying to finish one of my books so that my professor can edit it this December. I’ll have to look at the revision links you have here. Hopefully they’ll help me out, since I’ve never edited a whole book before.

    Yikes. 😀

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