Starting a revision post-mortem

March 2, 2013

My day began with a certain amount of rejoicing. Finally, after some 15 months, the revision of ‘Won’t somebody think of the Children’ was finished! It’s been a long, kinda strange road with Holly Lisle, but I’ve learned an awful lot about editing and good writing from her.

After sending the manuscript off to two intrepid critters, updating my next chapter in the critters.org queue, sending a critique request in to the Nanowrimo ‘December and Beyond’ forums, and scanning through the bonus lesson about query letters and one-page synopses, I turned to lesson 22, to see what Holly had to say about making revision go quicker next time…

And boggled a little!

The worksheet for lesson 22 is a huge post-mortem on the revision process; now that I’m finished, I have to record my thoughts on every step of the process; how much work I had to do from my first draft, how well I did, and if there’s anything I need to keep in mind for my next revision. I like the idea, and it’s a great example of something to dive into during Nanoedmo, where I can get full credit for the time I spend filling out the post-mortem–

But it’s still a bit daunting, especially as I need to start with the lessons that I completed more than a year ago. I’ve come up with some good stuff so far, but I’m haven’t finished the postmortem on lesson 2 yet.

Hopefully it won’t take me all of March. 😉

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Editing and Workshop submissions progress

January 23, 2013

Hi again, friends and followers! It’s been a pretty cold week here in Ontario, but that’s given be some time to stay inside where it’s warm and get cracking on my workshop applications stuff, including the editing. (Yay?) 😉

First off, the Missing Gnomes. I still need to sort some stuff out here, especially with my five-page synopsis, but I pitched the rough outline to the Hamilton Writer’s circle at Chester’s yesterday night, and people really seemed to love the premise, the characters, and a few people started really debating a few of the plot points – including whether my villain can actually reform and seek absolution at the end. (“Pixie crossbow to the back of the head, I’m tellin’ ya! Only way to be sure.” :D) So that was great, really helped me stay excited about that project.

What I’ve been working on tonight, though, has been the “Time Bubble Blues” story. I got something like two dozen great critiques for this story a week ago, and even though people really liked it, there was a lot to come to grips with. After taking a little while to catch my creative breath, I dove into the revision with a variant of an approach that’s worked pretty well with me for short stories before.

  • Start by re-reading all of the critiques in order, and making notes of everything that you’d like to change – not necessarily something that a critter told you to change, it could be something that you were reminded of by something they said. Leave off anything that you like the way it is.
  • Some of the items will be very concrete and easy, some extremely vague and nebulous, but that’s okay.
  • Once the critiques have all been read and the list is complete, find something that you feel confident to fix right away. Fix it, and cross it off or mark an X next to it. Then look for the next thing.
  • As you X off more of the list, the quick wins will become sparse, and maybe vanish entirely. Tackle bigger items when you feel ready for them.
  • If you need to do online research or involved planning to take care of an item on the list, do it, but don’t let yourself get distracted. If you make some changes for a nebulous item but think it’s not finished yet, mark a diagonal slash / in front of that item – that’s half of your X mark.

So, I’ve been going at my list that way for a few days, and this evening I just felt moved to blaze a slightly new trail, so I started at the beginning of the story. There was one item on my list to ‘Speed up the start, give less exposition about how the bubble operates’ so I cut as much as I could out of the first scene, before disaster strikes. Then I just kinda kept going through the storyline, adjusting everything I could think of or remember from the list, re-ordering some scenes, expanding some content and adding a few hundred words. I think I really got some great stuff done.

I guess the next thing I’ll need to do for my next editing session is go through my list and see how many more X marks I can add.

 


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