Tag Archives: process

Revision Time, Baby! *cracks knuckles*

Yessir, it’s time to get back to work on Book 3 of the Bound Trilogy.

Wait, you say. What about book two?

Well, that will be off to my editor soon. I hope. In any case, trying to do more to it right now would be a waste of time. It needs a new set of eyes on it. My time is better spent revising the next one, making big cuts and changes and adjustments and WHAT THE HECK HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO AGAIN.

It’s okay. This is always a scary time for me. For a lot of us, actually, so I thought it might be interesting for writer types to talk a bit about how we approach this. I don’t usually do “how I write” posts (because who cares, right?), but this is what’s happening right now, so here we go.

Let’s take a look at what I have here.

Um… It’s 126,000 words, for a start. And I need to add a few scenes, plus throw in some more description all over the place. It’s a fairly big book, is what I’m saying.* What else is it? Well, I think it’s a good story. It needs work. There are places where I didn’t quite have character motivations nailed down, where I missed out on crazy good opportunities for character or plot development, or where something just doesn’t quite fit yet.

But honestly, I think it’s my favourite story of the trilogy. I think Bound is a great story, and that Torn is better… but yeah, this might be my favourite. I pushed characters further and harder than ever before, and… well, no spoilers.

So how do I approach revising something like this? Like so:

1) Read through and take notes. Squee a little at the great moments, note what’s not working, and what can be cut. Make notes on lined paper. Good lined paper, because I’m spoiled. Mead Five-Star or bust.

2) Add these notes to the ones I made while I was drafting re: things to go back and change. I don’t revise while I’m drafting, for two reasons. One, it costs me momentum. Two, until the story is drafted, I can’t see how all of the pieces fit. I might go back and change something, and then need to change it again later. Big waste of time for me.

2) Make a plan. This consists of looking back over what I’ve read, making notes on character arcs, plot, subplots, character interactions and tensions, timelines, and anything else that I need to keep an eye on while revising. I make notes on what these things SHOULD look like so that I can easily see where they’re not working. This is still all on paper. I just brainstorm better that way.

3) Go through, scene by scene, and fix what’s broken. This pass is about the story and characters, not about making it pretty (though I can’t help fixing the writing sometimes). This is the stage I’m at now. I’ve re-written the opening, because as written in draft one it just picked up where Torn ends, and wasn’t particularly compelling. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s better. I will do this for every scene, using my notes. I will cut scenes and completely re-write if I have to. Scary, but worth it if it makes the story better.

4) Go through each POV character’s scenes individually to check for consistency of voice and characterization. Make sure they’re not acting in chapter 2 the way they should be in chapter 22. Now is also the time to make the writing shine a little brighter, add descriptions that I missed before, chase down character observations/feelings/etc. that really get us into their heads.

5) Send to beta readers. Pray they don’t think it sucks and needs to be completely re-written. Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s always a fear.

6) Fix based on their notes.

And after this, it’s all editing, not big revisions. Or at least that’s the hope. I might have to make big changes and re-write scenes post-editing, but hopefully won’t have to change the story.

Is it more work than some writers do? You bet. But every pass gets me deeper into the story and the characters and shows me things I missed before. For me, it’s totally worth the extra work because this is how I make my stories the best they can be. Others have their own methods, and that’s great. In fact, I want to hear about them.

So… yeah. We’ll see how it goes. I’m trying to get through revisions quickly for reasons we’ll talk about in another post. For now, I guess I’d better get back at it.

Pictured: Revision fuel

Pictured: Revision fuel

So tell me, writerfolk: What’s your revision process like? How do you know what works and what doesn’t? What’s the hardest part for you, and your favourite?

 

 

 

*For perspective, Bound was about 118K, making this one a little less than 10% longer. Not so bad, when you look at it that way.


Writing Process Blog Hop: Evolution

I was tagged by the lovely, talented, blogtastic Melissa Janda (hello!) to participate in the writing process blog hop, where we write a post about our own process, then tag three other writers to participate. I admit, I have declined this one in the past because I worried I wouldn’t find anyone to tag who hadn’t done it yet. Thanks to a group I’m in on Facebook, I’ve met some more authors, and here we are.

YAY!

Interesting note: I picked my topic before I read Melissa’s. I pretty well could have copied and pasted hers for mine… but I won’t. 🙂

 

 MY WRITING PROCESS

I wonder whether I’ll ever get to a place where my process is stable, just a regular thing that happens. So far, it’s been all over the place.

There was the ideas-and-that’s-all phase, when I knew I had just the BEST ideas for books that would totally be best-sellers if only I could find the time to write them. I could daydream with the best of them, playing stories through my mind like movies. I thought I had writing talent (people had said so, hadn’t they?), but with depression and a job and a sleep disorder and… well, I never did it.

That was not a good phase. Sure, the imagination exercise was important, but I wish someone had told me that ideas are a dime a dozen, as common as cliches. It’s what you do with them that matters. And “talent” means absolutely nothing without hard work. I’d say the work is more important. Talent is highly overrated, and none of us are as talented as we think we are.

I kind of want to slap past me sometimes.

Then came the trying-to-get-it-right phase, in which I tried to write stories, but my perfectionism pulled up a chair beside me for every session and whispered horrible things to me. You can read more about that here. Essentially what was happening is that she (don’t ask why my perfectionism is a she) had me convinced that I had to get it right on the first try, or I wasn’t a good writer. There was no room for revision. The thought of someone critiquing my work horrified me. No, it had to be perfect before I showed it to anyone.

Maybe it’s obvious to you what happened, but I’ll say it anyway. I wrote first chapters. I wrote a few short stories. And I gave up when they weren’t perfect. I re-wrote those first chapters until I got sick of the stories or lost hope of ever finishing them. I tossed short stories in a drawer, never to be seen again.

Learning experiences, right?

Then came the children, and more (and worse) depression, and exhaustion like I’d never known before, and the writing stopped. I didn’t write anything for about three years save for fat journals that I’m a little scared to read over now.

Next stage: Salvation.

That might be putting it just a little dramatically, but that’s what it felt like at the time, and still does. I learned that the only way I can finish a book is to just write the damned thing without editing as I go, without second-guessing myself. Momentum is the key, and thanks to NaNoWriMo, I finished writing a novel draft in… seven months.

Okay, it’s not exactly the “novel in a month” that we’re supposed to be aiming for, but I had found a method that worked. I mean, the first draft was shit, but it was something I could work with. I learned that you can’t revise what you haven’t written, and until the story is laid out on paper, I can’t see its flaws.

In the 3.5 years since that first NaNoWriMo, my writing process has evolved in great, confusing leaps. I plan more now, but still need three drafts before I’m comfortable sending a larger, more complex work to readers. Two for a novella, so far. Then more revisions. Then edits.

No, I’m not of the “just throw it out there and see if it sticks, and do better with the next book” school of thought. Only my best work makes it out there, and that’s something that’s not likely to change. So though I’ve learned to tell Perfectionism to shut up during early drafts, she still has work to do around the office.

THE BIG BUMP

A few weeks ago, my process got jostled just a little with the launch of Bound.

I told myself that releasing a book was not a big deal. Well, it was to me, and to my friends and family, and you lovely people who have been waiting for it. But I thought we’d party and go home, and things would be quiet, and I’d get right back to work on the second book. I didn’t have big plans for promotions, didn’t want to pimp this book until I had more to offer.

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Yeah, I got thrown off.

Things went a little better than I’d expected, and I found myself compulsively checking sales and Amazon rankings. I hid under the bed in fear instead of retreating to my editing cave like I should have.

BUT. I do have a deadline now, and I need to get back to work. For anyone interested, here’s what the process for my current WIP looks like:

  • Draft one: November and December 2012 (80K words, just getting the story out)
  • Draft two: November 2013 (find flaws, improve the story)
  • Draft three: July and August 2014 (approximately 105K words. Kick the story up SO MANY NOTCHES*. Rewrite/revise each character’s POV scenes separately to maintain flow and voice. Aren’s up next… Eek!)
  • To readers September 2014
  • Revisions October/November 2014
  • To Editor end of November
  • Edits: January
  • Proofing: Early February

After that, it’s publishing mechanics (formatting, cover art, etc). This is an ideal timeline, of course, and I’m sure something will come up to thwart my best-laid plans. But that’s what the process looks like for me right now.

So there you go. That was… lengthy. But maybe you found something that will inspire or encourage you.

LINKAGE

So now I have the pleasure of introducing you to the three writers I’m tagging for this blog hop. I met these fine humans through the Indie Author Group on Facebook (which is a fabulous resource, and blessedly promo-free). Stop by their blogs, say hello, make a new friend! They’ll be posting their writing process stuff on the 21st, but they all have blogs that are up and running right now.

Sabrina Giles is a Paranormal Romance author (expanding into other genres with her works in progress) who blogs at sabrinagiles.wordpress.com. Her novel Ensuing Darkness is available now at Amazon and Smashwords.

Mariella Hunt blogs at Baiting the Muse Trap (mariellahunt.com). She will be publishing her YA Urban Fantasy novel Dissonance and a collection of short stories this year.

Sabrina McClure is a new, indie author who writes paranormal & mystery novels. She blogs at authorsabrinamcclure.wordpress.com. Her debut novel Hades Sent is available now.

 

 

*This is why I don’t release early drafts. Even if they’re “good enough,” I know that they could by so much better.


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