Block revision: Picking up where I left off

September 8, 2012

So, I said at the end of July that I’d resume Block Revision (Lesson 17 from the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course,) in September after I was back home from Dragon*Con. It took a few days, but I started on Thursday, and now I’ve got four new scenes blocked out, taking me up to scene 39 out of 57 scenes on my Focus Outline.

It’s going okay so far, but I feel like I’m in stop-and-go traffic instead of cruising down the revision highway. I’ll set the timer for 45 minutes, play the Monastery music, sit down, bang out one scene, look at the next… and have just no idea what I need to do with it. I think maybe I’m just out of touch with the Focus Outline, and maybe what I need to do next is review every card from here to the end of the book and let my subconscious chew on them and figure things out.

Or I may need to get the entire Block Revision layout back on the living room table. I’ve only been getting what I need so far, which includes:

  • Alphasmart
  • Focus cards
  • Completed pages
  • Pages yet to work on
  • Pens
  • Important character notes
  • Binder of not-so-important notes
  • Beverage container
  • Snacks if I can work them into the diet

Then again, maybe I’m worrying over nothing. It took me a while to work up to speed in July, even after the week of preparations I took to make sure I was ready to start on Block Revision.

I’ll get it done. I’m sure of that.

A little more about my Block Revision process

July 23, 2012

Block Revision is still doing pretty well; I got up to scene 24 at Williams yesterday with Elizabeth Twist, then went back to add on to scene 20 this morning. Sometimes the going seems slow, but that’s probably just because I had the crazy notion that this was something I could plow through in a week just because Holly Lisle put it in one lesson. 😉 It’ll take as long as it takes, and I’m getting lots of great work done.

When I’m not at Williams cafe, though, I’ve been noticing that my way of approaching Block Revision has become very formal and ritualized, and that probably helps me get into the right mindset for it. It starts with the setup – making sure that the big tall lamp in the living room is plugged in. I hook my iphone up to a traveldock speaker, set the timer for 45 minutes or however long I think I have to edit in this session, and start playing the ‘Monastery’ playlist, which is almost all instrumental tunes. If I feel any need, I’ll make sure I have sugar-free koolaid in something with a screw-on lid, and some peanuts in a bowl.

Then I go to the Focus Outline cards that I had printed up from my notes, find my place, and get down to work. After comparing the sentence on the card with the pages indicated, I figure out if I can start by marking up a passage in my printed first draft, or if I need to start with fresh stuff on the Alphasmart Dana. Quite often I start and finish the scene on the Dana, without using anything from the page, just marking ‘Block Scene 22’ or whatever somewhere in the margins in blue pen, updating the page number, and doodling a little red box with an X through it, to indicate that the entire page is to be cut as-is.

I haven’t done anything with cutting and taping so far, or really used the post-it notes, and I only occasionally refer to my consistency laundry list or my worksheet printouts. Maybe I should be leaning on these more, but I’ve got a system that works and that keeps me paying attention to enough things at once already. If I’m making a mistake at this point, I probably won’t figure it out until I’m done the course.

Block Revision progress update!

July 20, 2012

Well, I’ve got fourteen scenes done now, out of fifty-seven, and I’m excited about making more progress over the weekend. A lot of scenes were nearly-complete rewrites on the Alphasmart, which does take longer, and I was starting to get depressed about it. And then I hit three scenes this evening that I could mark up off the first draft, (along with a few inserts on one of them,) and that made me feel better that I can make it through this before the end of the year.

And it still feels good to know that I’ve got this process for tackling the revision, and so many months of prep work that I’ve done to picture the book that I want to have when I’m finished. Exciting stuff, even when I feel a bit bogged down. 🙂

Block Revision is finally underway!

July 14, 2012

It’s been an interesting warm-up week leading to my first revision cuts on “Won’t somebody think of the children” this afternoon. As well as the preparation I told you about before, I spent several hours yesterday evening cutting up the printout of my Focus Outline and taping each scene sentence to a 3*5″ index card… which was kinda fun, especially since I could catch up on some Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice while I worked. And just this morning, it occurred to me that I couldn’t use the spiral-bound copy of my manuscript that I got at Staples last December for Holly’s cut-and-paste technique – because it was double-sided, and so there was no way I could cut two passages that happened to be on opposite sides of the same page into different scenes. So I printed out a new copy of my draft document on the laser printer. (Now I’m wondering if I was possibly a bit hasty, but what’s done is done.)

I’ve done revision on two scenes and part of a third so far – out of 57 in my outline. This is probably not a process that I’m going to finish in a week. I might be lucky if I finish lesson 17, which is the first pass of Block Revision, by the end of July, but I’ll see how it goes. I did scene 1 entirely with pen markup on the original draft pages, and scene 2 was entirely typed into the Alphasmart, because I didn’t see any passages from the original version of the scene that seemed good enough to include with changes. It looks like scene 3 might go the Dana-only route as well; it’s certainly starting off that way.

But I’m having fun, and I think this approach is working fairly well.

That’s a photo of my table laid out for revision – you can see a binder open to one of my worksheet printouts, the pens, post-its, scissors, tape, my pile of to-revise pages, the Focus Outline colored cards, my laundry list of continuity notes, and the Alphasmart sitting on top of the pile of blank typing paper to cut and paste onto. The pile of edited pages is mostly cut off the right edge of the picture. The empty space in the bottom center is where the scene that I’m editing at the time would go. Snacks would be off to the left, beyond the binder.

I never really thought of my living room table as small until I started to lay Holly’s Block Revision process out onto it.

Block Revision Kelworth-style update

July 12, 2012

Hey there, friends and followers. I haven’t actually dived into Block Revision yet, but the preparations are almost done – I went to Walmart yesterday to buy peanuts, a little beef jerky to try, and Scotch Tape, and I’ve nearly finished getting the Focus Outline and worksheets ready to print – Office does surprisingly well at copying Excel worksheets into MSWord tables, and I like the way that turns out.

So hopefully I’ll actually start the Block Revision by tomorrow evening – I’ll let you know how it goes.

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