IWSG: The Revisions Edition

March 6, 2014

Welcome Insecure Writer’s from far and wide! So, I’m six days into my personal version of National Novel Editing Month, and even though it’s been hard to find the energy to log revision time, I think I’ve been doing pretty well. I’m nearly at 10 hours out of the 50 hour challenge now.

I’ve been bouncing around with my revision projects so far, mostly between going through the Holly Lisle ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course on a second manuscript, “The Angel’s Charlie”, and a follow-my-gut approach to revising a science fiction short, “Gotta Have that Look.” I wrote this version of GHTL during Odyssey, based on an earlier Camp Nanowrimo short that I sent to Jeanne while preparing to attend the workshop, and I both loved and hated the feedback I got on it. I finally broke ground on the revisions back in December or so, and I actually really like some of the changes I’ve been making to it over the past few days. Hopefully I’ll be able to send it back to the Team Ambitious crew in a week and a bit, see what they think of all the new stuff.

One cool bit that I was able to take from the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course and apply to GHTL was the Holly Lisle three-part fix for talking heads: establish the setting, give a character a prop, and involve a gimmick. (I won’t explain that in detail here: Go buy the course for yourself!)

I’ve been counting other stuff as EdMo time too; if you’re going to reach 50 hours in a month, you have to dig deep. I’m not going out looking for lots of critiques to do in March, but whatever critiquing I do for other writers counts. I’ve also been planning another rewrite of Orpheus, hoping to expand it for the I Am the Abyss anythology. And I’ve been looking for other shorts to revise, finding Jeanne’s feedback on my Odyssey application piece, “The Time Bubble Blues”, and updating a list of every short story I’ve written over the past 4 years or so.

So I guess I’m not feeling that insecure about my writing just now, it turns out. 😀 What about you?

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NaNoEdMo Eve (again?)

February 28, 2014

Well, it’s the last day of February, so tomorrow will be March 1st, and NaNoEdMo is starting all over again. My approach to revision and editing has changed a lot in the last year, (mostly on account of Odyssey,) but I’m still looking forward to getting 50 hours worth of editing in over the month.

So far, my revision possibilities list is fairly brief:

  • The Angel’s Charlie. I started working on the Holly Lisle HTRYN program with this manuscript last March, and then never really got back to it. It’ll be nice to get back to that.
  • “Gotta have that look.” Hopefully I can get the revision of this to a place where I’m happy enough with it to submit it to Team Ambitious by mid-month. (It’ll need to be good, since they all saw a draft back in the summer.) Then maybe I can submit it in the spring, get it working for my Race Score.
  • Expand “Orpheus and the Cameraman” for the Abyss anthology. Since the anthology call is for novellas of at least 10k, and my current draft is just over four thousand words, (from a first draft of 2k,) that’ll be a lot of expansion and new words, but I think the premise has enough to support that, and it’ll be nice to get to write some new scenes while still technically editing for March.

I just finished the last of my modest goals for Feburary, dreaming up some story ideas that I’ll be tossing out when the A to Z challenge starts in April! Of course, I still have to figure out some of the trickiest letters in the alphabet, but there’s time for that.


A Holly Lisle giveaway announcement

July 30, 2013

Okay, big news today! Holly Lisle is unveiling the new version of her “How to Revise your Novel” course with a big giveaway. Everybody who enters gets a copy of a free new lesson, “101 Worst Things That Go Wrong in First Draft.”

I’ve learned so much from “How to Revise your Novel”, and I’d recommend it to anybody who has a broken first draft and isn’t really sure how to fix it… especially those of us who’ve survived Nanowrimo and then think “Well, now what?”

And there are lots of other great prizes in the giveaway…

  • ONE grand prize winner will receive entrance, free of charge, to all three of Holly’s major courses: How To Think Sideways, How to Revise Your Novel, and How To Write a Series. (Winner may not be a current member of any of those courses.)
  • THREE winners will receive entrance, free of charge, to How To Revise Your Novel. (Winner may not be a current member of HTRYN.)
  • FIVE winners will receive, free of charge, a bundle containing every single ebook in Holly’s store, fiction and nonfiction both (courses not included).
  • FIVE winners will receive, free of charge, a 2-course combo of How To Motivate Yourself and Writing Discipline.
  • TWENTY winners will receive a 25% off coupon, good for any single shopping cart purchase in Holly’s store (not valid for course memberships).

The contest is over at 11:30 a.m. EST on Monday, August 5, but don’t wait. Click here to sign up today.

DISCLOSURE: I may receive compensation for some of the recommendations I make on this site. But I’ve taken this course, and I stand by my recommendation for it.

P.S. If you sign up for one of Holly’s courses while you’re there AND you are one of the winners of that course, your payment will be refunded, so don’t worry about waiting until the prizes are announced before signing up for anything that interest you.


Taking criticism is still tough…

May 24, 2013

The revised version of “Won’t somebody think of the Children”, the one that I spent nearly sixteen months slaving over, (with a few breaks to work on other projects,) is still working its way through the critters.org critique queue. Chapter 4 got sent out for critiques on Wednesday, and I’ve gotten one full critique back of the entire novel by a dedicated reader and I’m waiting on a few others.

The results certainly haven’t been universally encouraging. I really think that the story is much stronger than it was in the first draft, and I’ve gotten some encouraging validation from some readers, but there have also been a few responses that took some wind from my sails. One of the critiques I got from chapter four said that there was no conflict, nothing at stake; and offered three different rewriting techniques for improving a scene. I was disheartened when I first received that, and then twelve hours later, I got a short commenting on my colon use, with four paragraphs of praise and apologizing for not having more negative feedback. 😉

I guess I’m going to have to organize all my critiques, including the feedback from the dedicated readers who haven’t gotten back to me yet, and evaluate it all like a big pot of soup without paying too much attention to any one piece. And always bear in mind that the first revision I did was based off my own impressions of the book, and there are dozens of tools from the Holly Lisle revision course that I can still turn to and use to fix the problems that I never saw, once a critter has pointed out that they’re there.

It may be a tough job, but a writer’s gotta do it at some point!


Nanoedmo – editing to the bitter end

March 27, 2013

Okay, so first off: the hour tracker is at just over 41 hours, which means I do have quite a bit of work to cram into the last 3 days of the month, but then, I’ve got the long weekend coming up, so it’s certainly doable.

I was making some good progress on the second novel I’m going through ‘How to Revise your Novel’ with, The Angel’s Charlie; I’m nearly finished the second lesson, promise counts, but I was also feeling that working on the novel was adding to my stress levels a bit. So, instead of working myself into a stress breakdown or giving up on EdMo, I decided to switch back to polishing fanfiction and see if that was better, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot and finding it restful by comparison. I’ve gotten a few chapters through the sequel to “Arrow through my Soul, A Roswell Alien in Metropolis. Not quite sure if I’m going to stick with fanfic through the rest of the month, or go back to HTRYN, but I’m sure I’m going to reach 50 hours one way or another!

And then it’ll be time for Camp Nanowrimo and my A-Z challenge. I think the lineup there is in pretty good shape; I have over 20 spotlight interviews already and more should be coming in soon. At least one of my Camp Spotlights is probably going to get held over until May, just because there won’t be room in the A-Z alphabet, because things never get slotted in quite that neatly. 😉 But they should make great reading even after Camp is finished.


I sold somebody on How To Think Sideways – and bought into it myself

March 15, 2013

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Cheerfully,
Holly

That’s the email that came through around 4 pm this afternoon. If you bought something from my links to the Holly Lisle sale from a few days ago… thanks so much! I hope you get a lot of benefit out of the course. And I’d love to hear from you in the comments (or privately at chriskelworth at gmail dot com if you’d prefer.)

Myself, I’d been wavering up until this morning, but I finally signed up to the How to Think Sideways ‘Bring your own lessons’ plan: This means that it doesn’t include the original 29 lessons, which you can buy a la carte on Holly’s side, or through Amazon or Nook stores through her HTTS Direct program. My sister and her family got me the first 8 HTTS Direct lessons for Christmas. But the ‘Ultra Bring your own lessons’ package includes all the extra stuff beyond the basic lesson handouts – permanent passes to the HTTS student forums, examples of the process from Holly’s own books, audio and video materials, and bonus lessons.

I hadn’t been sure if I needed that, but decided to dive on in. I also scored a bunch of HTTS Direct courses – from nine through twenty-four, which seemed like a good place to stop for today because lesson twenty-five was quick revision stuff, and as you know, I’ve already been through Holly’s big revision course. 😀

So I’ve got lots of course stuff to go through, when I find the time of course. What else? Oh, I’ve officially starting my victory lap for ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ – while “Children” is out with critiquers, I’ve begun going through lesson 1 with “The Angel’s Charlie”, a very different kind of book, but one that I have high hopes for revising.

Lots of cool Holly Lisle-ish stuff goin’ on.


A revision pass on the Kindle

February 15, 2013

So, I’m in the middle of my last read-through for the How to Revise your Novel course by Holly Lisle. I’m actually a little off the track of the standard lessons at this point, because of how much working with paper and pen saps my creative energy. The standard plan is to do four passes with pen and paper:

  1. Block revision (Lesson 17)
  2. Line editing (Lesson 18)
  3. Polishing (Lesson 19)
  4. Scene Beginnings, endings, and pacing (Lesson 20)

Then Lesson 21 is “The Type-in”, where you take all those pages and update your digital document with the changes, typing in the new stuff that you’ve written out in long-hand.

I would not have survived this process with my sanity intact. 😉 I did Block Revision with a lot of printed pages with pens, but also used the Alphasmart to type in new scenes or segments. After Block Revision was finished, I did the type-in, (though I didn’t really realize that was what I was doing,) and did the next 3 passes on the netbook, in Microsoft Word with ‘track changes’ turned on so that I could see what I was changing at each step, and copying to a new MSword file and accepting changes in the new document before starting the next pass.

So, I wasn’t quite sure how to approach lesson 21 at first. I shared my story on the Holly Lisle boot camp forums, and somebody suggested reading through it one more time, ‘on a different device or at least a different font’ so that I’d have a fresh chance to notice any possible issues, and then move on to a few final exercises in the lesson. So I converted the book to Kindle format and I’ve been proofing it that way.

It’s been interesting. So far, I’m a little less than half-way through, and I’ve already made over 300 annotations on the Kindle. And I’ve noticed I see to be developing a particular shorthand that’s different from the sort of notes I make when I’m reading on the Kindle to critique somebody else’s work. For one thing, I’m using the word ‘cut’ a lot – either by itself, when I’m cutting the word that the cursor is on, or with a little more context: ‘cut 5’ to delete a phrase that’s five words long, (generally trusting that I can figure out in what direction to go,) ‘cut comma’ or similar for eliminating punctuation. If I’m not quite sure what changes need to be made, I might just note ‘rephrase’ or something like that.

I’m pleased with the way this is going, and hopefully it’ll keep going quickly: both the reading and updating my manuscript with the changes. ‘Children’ is already out for Dedicated Readers at critters.org, though so far I’ve only received one reply and that was by someone asking what the plot of the overall book was; I probably should have included that with the first chapter, but considering that I don’t have a proofed copy to send back yet, I’m in no hurry to reply.


Discovery World-Building versus Revision World Triage

December 13, 2012

I’ve figured out that I skipped an important step in the ‘Revise my Short Story’ stuff I’ve been doing – the World Triage lesson, where you take inventory of all of the world elements – sets and props and gimmicks and doors and philosophies and even more categories that she’s come up with. You need to figure out what you’re using in the story to figure out if what you’ve created is the best world to fit the story you want to tell, and so that you can use those elements consistently in the rewrite.

Unfortunately, I think I’m at the point where I need to go to bed and continue the lesson tomorrow, because I’ve strayed from Triage and have caught myself doing Discovery World-Building – just looking for world elements that seem cool to know about this corner of Arion, despite the fact that I can’t see any possible way they fit into either the current draft or the revision outline that I already wrote in the Monastery. And I really do need to keep myself to the stuff that’s relevant, or I could be world-building until New Year’s!

So that’s something that I’ll have to keep in mind when I get on the bus tomorrow and try to pick up where I left off – only include the stuff that’s above the water level on the iceberg.


Thinking about October goals

October 3, 2012

I didn’t do much in terms of coming up with any goals for October Monday or yesterday – for one thing, I wanted to give myself a break after an eleventh-hour drive to finish most of my September projects! I did keep up with some good time-slice stuff, including editing ‘Children’ for style and grace, (Holly Lisle’s revision lesson 18,) and doing some cleaning in my bedroom.

But I’ve been brainstorming for the to-do list this evening, and the list is even longer than usual, which is not necessarily a good idea. But partly inspired by the Goals versus Expectations philosophy, a lot of these are very small, almost baby-steps goals, that I know I can achieve if I put the time in…

  • Finish lesson 18 for HTRYN
  • Start lesson 19
  • Read GMC
  • Come up with idea for Nano novel
  • Start working with ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’
  • Spend 10 hours cleaning/tidying
  • Read and critique novel RFDR for critters workshop
  • Spend 3 hours organizing files on the desktop tower
  • Finish polishing ‘Husk Funeral’ and post to fanfiction.net
  • Start writing a new short story
  • Spend 2 hours cleaning up formatting and updating existing fanfiction.net files
  • Read 4 short stories
  • Finish adding features to iPhone version of project tracker
  • Start iPhone version of song rater
  • Keep up with ML duties

So, am I crazy? Which of these goals, if any, do you want to hear more about as I strive to succeed?


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.


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