Monday, December 6, 2010

forest for the trees...

...or something like that.

i figure the post-NaNo glow is a good time to talk revision.

first, let me say - i suck at it.
that is, i suck at doing it on my own. last year at this time, i was finishing up the first draft of BUTTER, which - to tell the truth - didn't look that much different from the draft i sent to agents. i used a few suggestions from early beta readers and did a serious line-by-line edit, but i didn't make any big-picture changes... because all i'd heard was that people liked it, and hey, i liked it too, so what's to change? (ha.ha.ha.)

it wasn't until i got revision notes from agents that i could really see what needed to be changed. i also got a serious beta who wasn't afraid to tell me when those revisions weren't working and to give me big-picture critique like "cut this entire boring chapter." (i'm paraphrasing. Gem is honest but much more eloquent than that.)

anyway, as much as i loved the praise of my alpha readers, i found my motivation to edit came from publishing pros and other writers who basically said, "i loved x,y and z, but these other bits really suck."
it worked for me, because it made my stubborn little writer heart say, "oh YEAH? well watch this!"
and suddenly i learned how to revise. i found the courage to press the delete key on an entire chapter. i managed to shuffle up scenes, change the timeline of major plot events and still sew everything back together. what a breakthrough! now i'll be able to hack up my next book all on my own!

not so much.

it turns out i still need that feedback. i thrive on the criticism. a one-line crit comment can cause an entire new chapter to explode open in my brain. But without that input, i stare at my chapters all cozily knit together and can't see how to rip them apart.
so i'm settling for my line-by-line edits on BILLY D, then rushing this baby to betas, so they can tell me what sucks and inspire me to start hacking.

...and i suspect my biggest revisions may still be to come, when i get my editorial letter for BUTTER.

what about you? at which stage do you do your biggest revisions/rewrites? and how many do you do? as varied as the writing process is from person to person - i'll bet we're even more diverse when it comes to revisions.

1 comment:

Gem said...

I've never been described as eloquent before. And seven months interning may make me less so! Can't wait to beta for you again :)