Preparing for Block Revision with Holly Lisle


I’ve taken over five weeks off from my Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your novel’ course – heading into June, I decided that I couldn’t manage my Summer of Shorts Camp Nanowrimo project and revising at the same time, which was probably a good choice for my sanity. But Summer of Shorts is over, I’m back from Kansas, and it’s time to dive into Lesson 17 – Block Revision.

Or at least time to dive into preparation, because Block Revision is apparently not something you should dive into without all the right gear. ;)

I’ve got a to-get list set up in my ‘Holly Lisle’ folder, and some of the items are X-ed off:

  • Pages to rewrite, from the spiral-bound revision draft copy I had made at Staples in early December.
  • A break timer – I figure I’ll be using the iPhone for that.
  • Spill-proof cup (Nanowrimo!)
  • Printout of the surgical marks to make on the pages.
  • Laundry list of consistency details to remember.
  • My Alphasmart Dana. (Not from Holly’s Block Revision instructions – more on that later.)
  • Scissors
  • Typing paper, mostly for cut-and-pasting.
  • Pens
  • Sticky notes.

I’ve only got a few things left on the list – low carb snacks, which I figure I’ll try though they’re not my usual munchies – peanuts are generally good, and jerky might be worth a try, and some fruit. I don’t think I have any durable tape around, again for the cut-and-pasting, so I’ll probably pick some of that up at the store.

The last two items are going to be trickier, because I’ve been doing the Holly Lisle course in a nearly paperless style, but for Block Revision I can see the importance of having physical copies to hand, so that I don’t need to scramble through a digital folder to find what I need. That means that I’ll need to figure out some way of taking my Excel worksheets and Scrivener card file and turning them into readable printouts.

And that brings me to the scariest part of Block Revision, where I’ll really be stepping out into uncharted territory to a certain extent. Holly’s lecture on Lesson Seventeen says that every new scene or section required in the book should be written longhand during the Block Revision process.

I cannot manage paragraphs longhand at this point. Between the simple worry about if I’m going to be able to read my own handwriting, the curious way that working with a pen in my hand saps creative energy… well, I think it’s safer not to try anything heroic, at this point. As I said over on the Holly Lisle forums, the muse does not guide a pen between my fingers. When I have a pen between my fingers, my muse leaves the neighborhood.

Hopefully, the Alphasmart should be able to serve in the stead of longhand writing, though I won’t be able to immediately cut-and-paste my Alphasmarted work into longer scenes. I can just use a sticky note saying ‘Use Dana file BR2′

I’m excited about Block Revision. Like the entire Holly Lisle course so far, it’s about taking the magic and the craft of writing and laying out a step-by-step process that you can follow and not get lost in the enormous task of editing your book. And this is the first time in the whole course that what I’m going to be doing really looks like editing – writing new scenes, moving the old ones around, marking Xs and squiggly lines and other notations on my first draft, even taping together little bits and pieces to make a new scene.

Since I’m going to be blazing my own trail a little closer to the digital world than Holly’s process, I’m probably going to be blogging frequently about my Block Revision process and how the Alphasmart-ed approach is working out. I hope that it’ll be interesting reading for any of my followers who haven’t taken a Holly Lisle course themselves.

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2 Responses to Preparing for Block Revision with Holly Lisle

  1. Tape is definately a good option. Whatever you do, don’t use gluesticks. Modern gluesticks suck (Disappearing purple color? More like disappearing glue.) and are easily mistaken for chapstick in the heat of revision. I’m very excited to see how this process works for you, since I’m finally getting to a similar stage in my own revision.

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