Want to look through that window and see more of what editing and revising looks like?
Let’s take another peek.
I’ll kick off with a GREAT resource I found! Susan Dennard, author of the Something Strange & Deadly Series and The Witchland Series, whom I mentioned in my post from 7/22/17, has created a giant list of her processes and tips for planning, writing, revising, publishing, and more. I’m going to focus on one specific part of her revision tips, as I have only just cracked the surface of revising and I have not even made it through Lesson 1: What the heck did you write?
I have printed out my entire manuscript, read her How-To page, and also printed out multiple copies of each of her Plot, Character, Setting and Other Problems PDF sheets (I keep having to print more out as I fill them up-I have lots of problems, but all first drafts do). I would like to give a huge thank you to Ms. Susan Dennard for creating these! It has been an immense help for going through and revising my book.
Now, to my current issue at hand. I have only made it through Chapter 1 of my manuscript, The Rendin Chronicles, five or six times. I am currently about to sit down while I write this post (I’ll be posting some of my process on here for examples) and rewrite my first chapter….again.
The reason I keep rewriting my first chapter, is that every time I have gone through and weeded out my problems, I keep changing my plot. I have a general sense of where I want my book to go. But as I go through, I realize that it’s not quite the direction I have wanted the entire book to flow. If I am going to finish revising the rest of my book, I need to know where I am going with it in a whole general sense.
My first steps would be to start with a blank sheet of paper or a new doc on the computer. I prefer to work in Microsoft Word as I rewrite my chapter. Afterwards, I will transfer my revised chapter and scenes to Scrivener.
On my desk, I lay out my Problems Sheets, my notes (epiphany ideas that have struck at random moments, but are changes to the current chapter I am on), and my manuscript with coded notations.
Read S. Dennard’s How-To complete instructions for a full explanation.
In brief, you code your notes on your problem sheets and manuscript pages. For example- Notating Plot Problems, like Problem Number 2 in Chapter One, would be written in pencil in the margin of the manuscript with “P-1-2.” This avoids writing a bunch of notes and arrows and littering the manuscript with unintelligible words that would need to be deciphered later. That code would be added to the Plot Problem sheet with the page number in the corresponding column and the problem code with a detailed explanation in the main body of the worksheet.
As I type my new revisions, I follow the manuscript from the beginning and reference to each coded note as I start my rewrite. For my first rewrites, I will always be starting with a new document. This is because I find it too confusing to cut/paste, etc. If nothing in a large segment needs to be changed, I will just copy and paste that part into my New Doc.
I am currently working on this project in a bit of a Benadryl induced haze. I had an itchy reaction to laundry detergent…Those ellipses are time passing as I lost my battle to Benadryl and fell asleep. I am back at this and it is now, late in the evening. I started this posting in the morning and it has been a slow work in progress with a few obstacles, as well as, fun times spent with my littles and my husband.
Over on Twitter, @NaNoWordSprints ran a very inventive sprint session, which I utilized to revise this chapter. I have added a couple pages to the beginning, which I am liking as I go.
Here is a comparison of a small excerpt:
He gazed wistfully out into the the mountains and turned back to go into the palace.
He gazed wistfully out towards the mountains. When he was a small child, he had lived in those woodlands in a tiny country house, where the forest met the mountains. Only one other person lived with him, a woman, whom he had originally thought to be his mother. He came to learn that she was just his nursemaid. He had no memory of his real mother. He was told that she had died in childbirth. It had been a peaceful life for those first few years out there in the country, before he had been summoned to live in the palace. Now, as he looked out at the mountains, he wondered what had become of the young woman who had taken care of him all those years ago. She had not come to the castle when he was brought here. He had heard nothing more of her since his departure. She was the only woman he had known as any type of mother figure. She was a very beautiful woman with brilliantly red hair that always looked like it was on fire; especially, in the bright sunlight. She was so much a part of his distant past, kind words that always came with a smile for him. She never judged him for his largely disfigured face. She would tell him he was a beautiful child who would one day grow to be a great man. Once he had come to the castle, everything had changed. She was no longer there to protect him and the people he came to live with were mercilessly unforgiving in their stares and comments. The prince, a young boy at the time, had also lost his mother when she had given birth to him and they had bonded in the sharing of this similar loss. Prince Varden had never teased him for his mottled look and he was always grateful for that kindness, but other differences arose that created a separation between them that grew as time wore on.
Why did I wrote so much in my revision? The answer is in the note I left myself. My Main Character (MC) just had a brief dialogue with his soon-to-be king brother. He is looking out across the sky and remembering a feeling of peace and comfort. That far off country home is the only place he had ever found peace in his life. He has known none of this in his castle home. My notes read: “Page 3: C-1-1: Why is he gazing wistfully to the mountains?” I wanted to explain this very vulnerable moment for my MC. A moment of wishing, a moment of regret, a moment of sadness. I wanted to capture that in this wistful distant gaze.
Questions that may arise and come into play later are 1) should I include such a large flashback? 2) Is this the best place for these thoughts from long ago? 3) Does it flow okay with the rest of the scene?
For now, I will keep this revision over my prior, because my prior sentence was, obviously, much too small and non-descriptive. This current version will be added to my latest draft.
I am learning that in the process of writing so much changes. This small segment will be revised, changed, possibly cut completely. What these added words do as I revise, is to help me work on and build the world I am creating with my characters. Maybe these words will only give me insight into how I write my MC, what he went through as a child, growing up, etc. Maybe these memories will come out later in actions or feelings. Maybe a memory of this woman will arise later in a later meeting. I do not know the answer to these questions, yet. But this is what I find in the joy of the journey. I find it right there in that, joy in the journey. Writing is a process, a journey of thousands of words put down and deleted. Thoughts and ideas flood the mind, creativity flows and pen meets paper, fingers meet keys, ink flows and ideas pour out of the heart and through the fingertips. Remember to let those creative juices flow and enjoy the journey.
You never really know what you just might discover along the way.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an e-mail, leave a comment, tweet me a note, or send me an InstaMessage. I would love to hear how you are voyaging on this journey of words.
Until our next meeting.