How Do You Revise

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thndrcloud
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How Do You Revise

Post by thndrcloud » January 14th, 2010, 9:17 pm

Do you start with plot or character changes? Do you start at the beginning and work your way through to the end or do you do one character/plot thread at a time? Why do you do it the way you do?

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charlotte49ers
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by charlotte49ers » January 14th, 2010, 9:30 pm

After reading about what seems to work best, I'm planning on starting with plot, then characters, then wording.

I'm probably going to pin it all up on a board and color coordinate different elements (yeah, I'm one of those) and go from beginning to end. I'm hoping it will help me visualize the impact on later chapters if I change something in an earlier one. Does that make sense?

Natalie Whipple did a post on the questions she asks herself and it was really handy.

Melissa
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by Melissa » January 14th, 2010, 10:23 pm

[quote="charlotte49ers"]
I'm probably going to pin it all up on a board and color coordinate different elements (yeah, I'm one of those) and go from beginning to end. I'm hoping it will help me visualize the impact on later chapters if I change something in an earlier one. Does that make sense?
\quote]

I do the same thing. I have one of those sticky-chart papers that I have a whole chart on to keep track of all the different relationships of my characters and then spreadsheets on the computer with different plot elements that I want to make sure I don't write about too early.

susan woodring
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by susan woodring » January 15th, 2010, 5:04 am

I begin by reading through whatever draft I'm working on and just trying to figure out what the book needs in terms of scenes, to make sure I've got them all there, and also to see if any need to be cut. This means I sometimes end up cutting some of my favorite scenes, and that's pretty tough. From there, I want to make sure my characters' motivations make sense, that the things that happen in the story are believable in the way I've told them, and finally, I concentrate on language. I polish up my sentences a bit.

owlandsparrow
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by owlandsparrow » January 15th, 2010, 9:49 am

My method is a mix of all of these. I'm a spreadsheet/highlight-loving/index card/bulletin board kind of girl. Like Susan, I read through the draft first and make notes along the way, keeping an eye out for all things scene-related (i.e. Is it a scene? Does it fit? Should it be cut/moved? Keep it like it is?). I discovered, however, at the end of reading through my first draft, that I needed to get to know my main characters better. The lead character was the only one who I really felt like I knew; everyone else was just too shadowy. Once I spent some time thinking through the other three main characters, my plot changed according to their newly solidified personalities, and I even got some great subplots out of it. I made a couple of (color-coded, excel-sheet) outlines and began on my second draft, which ended up being a lot different (a lot more depth, cohesion, and interesting stuff) than the first. Not everything changed, though - the basic story was still in tact, but the first draft felt like the outline of a coloring-book picture after I wrote the second draft, which was just...better.

I'm about to start reading through and revising the second draft, and I plan to use a combination of the Natalie Whipple advice mentioned earlier (http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.c ... ision.html) and Holly Lisle's method (http://howtoreviseyournovel.com/?rid=264). These two methods are totally different (H.L. tries to get everything in one pass, while N.W. does several specific read-throughs) but each offers a lot of good advice and questions to ask while revising.

-KO

matt mc
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by matt mc » January 15th, 2010, 10:43 am

This may be obvious advice, but no matter where you start--plot, character, word and sentence level--put the thing down for at least a week between revisions, longer if you have the time. Often, you get so used to looking at something that you miss the mistakes that are right in front of your face.
Last edited by matt mc on January 29th, 2010, 8:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

stevenchasey
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by stevenchasey » January 15th, 2010, 12:45 pm

On top of all of the great recommendations here, I'd suggest reading it outloud and pretending there is someone else listening (preferable to make someone actually listen, but that can be just painful). Listening to the cadence of your piece may give it a new life and context.

Kaitlyne
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by Kaitlyne » January 19th, 2010, 4:10 am

If I'm revising just in general, I just print it off and go through it, sometimes with a specific thing in mind (for instance, my first big revision had, "Cut all the "for a moments" written on the inside of my printout. I swear there were about a thousand in there haha).

The last one I worked on, however, my main goal was to cut as much as humanly possible, which changes how you view the work in some ways. Mostly it was a matter of building up the guts to do the cutting. At first I was nervous about it, not certain how it would work, etc. My main goal each time tended to be searching for ways to cut words, even if it was something as simple as changing the phrase, "pale blue" to "periwinkle." Every single word I could find to cut got cut.

After awhile, I got pretty good at that and less afraid of cutting scenes. I never really had to worry about character because that's my strong point, so in general by the time I've got the first draft down the characters are fine and don't need much tweaking. The more I worked, however, and the cleaner the manuscript became, the more certain sections stood out as just feeling "wrong." My goal then became to find ways to fix those scenes.

I did have about three chapters in my initial revision that hated, so I pulled those out and rewrote them on their own a few times as well, so I guess to an extent I do work on certain sections individually. I'll also pull out just a page or two that I know need special attention, throw them in another document, and then just rewrite them and paste it back in when I finish. It helps me to mentally separate it from the rest of the story and focus on that bit alone.

casnow
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by casnow » January 19th, 2010, 11:04 am

One thing I've "discovered" is that you should do grammar edits first and last... this is especially relevant if you are sending it out for critiquing. If you have a weak plot or characters, you will likely swamp your reviewers with typos, extra words, etc. if you don't do a grammar edit. At this stage I just look to make it grammatically correct. I then suggest doing plot and character (don't care about order). After that is done, then go back and do another grammar edit and a wording edit.

I also agree with the leave it alone for X amount of time comment. I knew a novel I just finished needed help, but set out to edit it right away... I knew the plot needed work, but couldn't figure out what? Now I know - it needs more at stake and more pain for the characters. I took a good plot and made it "plot lite" instead of making it the full shot of plot that readers want.

thndrcloud
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Re: How Do You Revise

Post by thndrcloud » January 21st, 2010, 11:10 pm

Thanks for the advice. With all of your comments in mind I've started revising some of my weak characters. Right now some of them are acting out of character and that's my fault because I didn't define them well enough in the first draft. Once my cast starts behaving in more predictable (for their personalities at least) ways I think I'll be better able to handle the plot issues.

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