Thursday, May 31, 2012

Revising

As I said in #3 HERE, I've been camped out in the revision cave for weeks. Since the remnants of revising still course through my veins, I thought, hey, why not blog about it. Not my veins, silly. Revising.

Apparently I'm in love with numbering things in my posts, like, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE. Why mess with what works?

Here are my top five thoughts on revising.

5. Be as persnickety as Rose's mother in TITANIC when it comes to who you get revising feedback from. I'm not saying to find people who will "yes" you to death. That's about as useless as having your pet fish read the manuscript. I'm saying to find people who will push you, encourage you, respectfully challenge you and above all else, give you the feeling that they want to see your story published. That feeling is hard to identify sometimes, but it is crucial. Obviously, if you're working with your agent and editor, they want to see your story published--that feeling is the foundation. However, if you're not, focus on that gut feeling, and seriously ask yourself: do these revision notes give me the feeling that _________ wants to see this story published? If the answer is no, put your protective eye gear on and read his/her revision notes through that lens. Don't completely disregard his/her notes (there may be some good nuggets) but instead, be persnickety.

4. I've discovered that I need absolute silence to revise. Mostly because the act of diving back into a manuscript to tinker, rearrange, or slash must be done with precision and concentration. The silence allows me to make sure the tiniest of details and the biggest of plot points remain accurate throughout. I can't do that with music on or people talking. I've tried and it frustrates me too much, and then I'm all screamy and cranktastic. Doesn't bode well with the fam.

My Staples print outs of my five novels (two published).
3. Even though I do the bulk of my major revisions on my laptop, I still need to have what I call my "paper read through". It's one of the last steps in my process. It's after I'm "finished" with my revisions and I need to have a final read through for clarity, flow, and to catch the nitty gritty stuff I may have missed. There's nothing like having the manuscript physically in front of me so I can write all over it, and flip backwards and forwards when I need to (I loathe doing that on the computer screen). Once my "paper read through" is done, I go back and key in the changes I made. It works for me.


2. Whenever I have a fully revised paper manuscript--revised either by my agent, my editor, a crit partner or me--and I come to a page or pages without any notes, my heartbeat quickens. This excites me for a few reasons 1) It means the page is fine just like it is. No changes needed. 2) Flipping the page with zest means I'm that much closer to completion.

1. Revising can be painful for me. Yes, brain squishy and all that, but I'm talking about real pain. Check out the photo underneath. hose are my fingers covered in Band-Aids. Four of them, but who's counting. I have this terrible habit of picking and biting my cuticles. I do this when I'm watching something exciting on TV or in the movie theater. I do this when I'm bored or nervous. And I do this when I'm writing or revising. A lot. Hence the need for the Band-Aids.
Did you notice that I needed TWO Band-Aids on each of my thumbs? Yeah.
What are your thoughts on revising? Any bad habits? Any good habits?