Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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kristi
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Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by kristi » January 15th, 2010, 1:00 am

As I've mentioned in former posts, I'm in the midst of revising my YA manuscript and it's been an interesting process -- read what you will into the word interesting. Last week, courtesy of Nathan's Friday links, I found an amazing checklist for each phase of the revision process on Natalie Whipple's blog. On one hand, it was great to recognize that I'm in that final, third phase -- what I call the "tweaking" stage -- and what Natalie calls the much more elegantly termed “Prose Revisions.” On the other hand, I was under the assumption that this last stage would be a piece of cake. I thought if major things like plot, story arc, and characterization were good to go, how long could it possibly take to tweak? Right. Can you say newbie? Now I know why something that takes 6 weeks to write can take 6 months to revise.

Here are the 5 things I've learned thus far about the revision process:
1) Revisions are like rabbits. You think you take care of one -- then you turn around and there are 20 more staring at you, and not in a cute bunny
kind of way.
2) Don't use chocolate as a revision reward. Or if you must ingest cocoa-licious rewards, such as after revising each chapter, write fewer chapters.
Your waistline will thank you. NOTE: I'm totally kidding -- I sometimes reward myself after each page! Chocolate rocks.
3) It's better to mark revisions on your hard copy with a purple pen. Some red pen purists out there will disagree here, but corrections don't seem quite
so harsh when written in pretty colors. Do they make tie-dye pens?
4) Tweaking takes FOREVER. I'm at the stage of agonizing over every word choice, verb, sentence structure, etc. and my eyes are crossing. I flew
through the first few revisions and this one is killing me -- I'm lucky if I get through 10 pages a night. Please tell me this part gets easier/faster
with each completed novel. Even if it's not true, somebody please lie to me.
5) Revisions make your book better. Okay, this seems obvious. Like when the NFL announcer says the key to winning the game is scoring the
most points. However, this last one if the reason I don't hate this process. Yes, it's painful at times. Yes, there are nights I want to pull my hair out
and drink wine on a weeknight. However, now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- just barely, mind you -- it's still dim and looks like it's miles
away. Yet, just knowing it's there gives me the rush I need to get to the finish line.

So there you have it. These may not have been scientifically tested yet, but they’re, like, so true.

What stage of the revision process do you find most challenging? How do you reward yourself? Note: if your answer to this one is the process itself is its own reward, goody for you but keep it to yourself. Happy Revising!

HaydnsGabe
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Re: Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by HaydnsGabe » January 15th, 2010, 2:51 am

Actually, you have research to back you up on the red pen thing--it's why college teachers are now told NOT to use them!

I really like these points, and can relate, especially to the point about chocolate, even if you were kidding! When I was finishing the first draft of my novel, I got into this weird habit of splitting a beer with my husband after the long days of work. It was during the three weeks between my summer term and fall, and I wrote something insane like 100 pages. The weird thing is that before that I hated beer, and now I don't really like it either, but for some reason, during that brief little period, half a beer was the reward I slipped into. Now that I'm doing Weight Watchers, I definitely can't use food (or beer) based rewards!

Anyway, maybe we'll meet each other in the ninth ring of revision hell. (Or wait, are there 9 rings of hell?) Good luck to you, Kristi!

DeadSchool
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Re: Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by DeadSchool » January 15th, 2010, 9:51 am

true true true true true TRUE!

kristi
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Re: Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by kristi » January 15th, 2010, 10:35 am

HaydnsGabe wrote:Actually, you have research to back you up on the red pen thing--it's why college teachers are now told NOT to use them!

I really like these points, and can relate, especially to the point about chocolate, even if you were kidding! When I was finishing the first draft of my novel, I got into this weird habit of splitting a beer with my husband after the long days of work. It was during the three weeks between my summer term and fall, and I wrote something insane like 100 pages. The weird thing is that before that I hated beer, and now I don't really like it either, but for some reason, during that brief little period, half a beer was the reward I slipped into. Now that I'm doing Weight Watchers, I definitely can't use food (or beer) based rewards!

Anyway, maybe we'll meet each other in the ninth ring of revision hell. (Or wait, are there 9 rings of hell?) Good luck to you, Kristi!
Thanks for letting me know about the red pen research -- that's hilarious -- I had no idea I had actual scientific methods backing me up. :)

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saycaity
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Re: Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by saycaity » January 15th, 2010, 10:36 am

Revisions are like bunnies. I honestly laughed out loud at that one. Hilarious!

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Ryan
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Re: Revision Hell: 5 Things I've Learned

Post by Ryan » January 15th, 2010, 10:55 am

Restructuring the beginning of my book was impossible for me so I ended up hiring an editor to help me out. You can become so attached to stuff, and the story so known to you that it's impossible to take whole pages out and rearrange large chunks.

I'm enjoying the tweaking and enriching process right now. Adding little bits about Maori culture, slipping little paragraphs in for more description, and adding dialogue here and there.

Sometimes you just have to stop. Everything is a rough draft if you think about it.
My love of fly fishing and surfing connects me to rivers and the ocean. Time with water reminds me to pursue those silly little streams of thought that run rampant in my head.
http://www.withoutrain.com/

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