Monday, December 7, 2009

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

So things have been going pretty well with my revisions of Mara's story. Forgiven, is that a terrible title? That was one of the biggest words when I Wordled the entire manuscript.


Oh well, there'll be plenty of time to second guess my title choices before I'm ready to query.

Meanwhile, since I know so many of you made so much progress in November and will be revising soon, I thought this week I'd share some of my favorite resources for novel revision.

Today's pick is NaNoEdMo, a site devoted to editing your manuscript. There are great articles available, including one by Tabitha Olson, whose contest I recently featured. "Tell Me First" serves as a great reminder that it's okay to "tell" in a first draft, but to go into greater detail for your revisions. Another article that I'll remember while revising was "Cut it Bigger", by Christine Taylor. Don't be afraid to use all the senses, she advises, and remember to get deeper into your character's head in the re-write.

But the most useful to me was Amber Cook's "Ask Not Only What You Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Your Editing (When March Is Over)" I've pasted in the bit that really helped me below:
"Establish what you’re editing towards.

Start general. I want to write a good book that people will want to read. Make a list of your favorite books and ask yourself what is it about them that made them such favorites. Why did you read them, and why do you care about them? Especially books you’ve either read repeatedly, or stories which stand out vividly in your mind (even if you only read it once). When you figure out what makes them, in your own opinion, so good, you’ll have an idea of what you want to be shooting for in your writing.

Now get specific about your novel. Do you want it to be a really scary story? Gut-wrenching drama? A humorous piece of refreshing escapism? A place to share your experience with a traumatic event in the hopes it can help other people going through the same thing? Which is all another way of saying: what kind of experience do you want to give your reader?

Look at what revved you up to write it in the first place and what drove you to actually sit down and write it. What makes it something you would love to share with other people?"

The bolding is mine, because I wanted to stress the importance of this sentence, which is something I never consciously think about during my rewrites. But it's something I thought of all the time while I was planning the novel, in the pre-writing, and even the initial writing stage. Somehow, once I finally get to the revision stage, I'm so caught up in what I have to do to make it perfect, I forget what it is I loved about the work in the first place.

So pop on over to NaNoEdMo for all the great editing resources there. They even have a forum, one more site to suck up the time you should be spending writing, LOL. But you don't have to be a member to benefit from their wisdom.

Happy Revising! ;)

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