Friday, December 11, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part IV

This time around, I'm trying to make editing easier on myself. Every little change matters, big or as small as the drop of water shown above. Printing out my manuscript has helped me to keep track of those changes, to really see my progress. It'll be fun to look back on this print-out by the time I get feedback from betas. But I know I'm not ready for that stage. Are you?

Oh, so you think your revisions are done, eh? Let's see what author Holly Lisle has to say about that.

In case you've never heard of her, she's the author of over thirty novels and writing books. You can download a free pdf of her book Mugging the Muse: Writing Fiction for Love and Money and check out her other books here. One of the best tips I got from this e-book is that while we must feel empathy for our characters to properly understand them, if we feel too much sympathy, we won't be able to do the bad things that need to be done to them. Too true, Holly!

Holly's article, How to Revise a Novel, was the resource that convinced me to print out a copy of Mara's story for this revision. Before I printed, I did do a quick read-through to correct any glaring mistakes and familiarize myself with the story again. Now, I know that I'm probably going to use Holly's technique at least one more time before I start querying, but I wanted to try her method before I sent it out to betas.

She informally calls this the "truly ferocious pre-submission edit", which I love. She tries not to edit too much before she gets feedback from her agent/editor, a position we'll all hopefully be in someday, right?

I couldn't agree with her more. I must have read EVANGELINE through on the computer screen over a dozen times when I started revising the first draft-- and I still didn't catch all the typos. And I definitely wasn't seeing the BIGGER PICTURE we talked about yesterday.

So now with Mara's story, I'm trying it Holly's way-- printing out the manuscript and asking myself a series of questions as I read, making notes on the manuscript, and others in my notebook. That's the first step of her process. I'm hoping to start sending this manuscript out to betas in January, so I've set myself a goal, which is the second step.

As I read through, I'm asking myself questions about the characters and scenes, making sure every character and scene is pulling their own weight to make the story work. If not, consolidate them. Make three characters into one if that makes better sense for your story. Ask, "Does this scene matter?" If not, drop it. Make sure all the threads of your subplots have been caught up. And of course, make sure you catch your typos and keep chapter headings consistent.

Any notes that need more space than the margin of your print-out? Those go in your notebook. Now it's time to rewrite, add, or delete your changes. Read it through one last time and, hey, presto, a revised manuscript!

Hopefully, when I've finished this process, my betas will cheer, telling me that the manuscript is perfect, needs no changes and will knock Stephenie Meyer down a peg (I've always wanted to say that, lol) on the NYT Bestsellers list. Yeah. Right. ;)

So check out Holly Lisle's articles. If you're interested, her next revision workshop begins January 2nd, 2010. Sign up or learn more about it HERE.

And happy revisions!

No comments:

Post a Comment