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Tuesday, February 28, 2012
11:01 PM | Posted by Marnee Bailey | | Edit Post
What a lame-o title. Sorry, folks.
I’m still revising. I know. It probably feels like forever to you too. I swear, I’m almost done. I’ve got about another 50 pages to cover, I think, and then I’ll be ready for people to read it and let me know where it sucks for them. Because I’ve done what I could with the sucky parts that I see.
You know, the past three months have been a real eye-opener. I’d love to say in only good ways. Like I'd love to say I’ve had some massive epiphanies and that the heavenly host alighted while I revised or some such. But I’d be lying. I’ve had to fight hard for the eye-opening parts and some of them just hit me on the head by accident.
So, I thought I’d share these things for you. I give you, the four things I've learned.
1). Take a Break. No, seriously, this is huge. After you hit the end of the first draft, for the love of all that is good and holy, TAKE TIME OFF! Find something to distract yourself. Go on vacation. Plan to finish right before the holidays so festivities sweep you away. Take on a DIY project. That’s what I did, I painted my kitchen cabinets. You don’t have to be that ambitious (read: crazy), but do yourself this favor and step away. A first draft needs time to ferment in your mind. Right after I finish, I can still hear the way I thought it should sound echoing around in my head. I needed the time to stop hearing it, to forget what I “meant” to say so that I could read it and hear what I really said. Definitely worth it.
I’d like to say I’ve always taken this advice. But I didn’t. Not my last two completed manuscripts.
2). Make a Game Plan. This one is my own personal thing, but maybe it’ll work/help you readers as well. For me, revising my novel seemed like this huge, insurmountable undertaking. So, I went at it like I do other seemingly insurmountable undertakings: I came up with a strategy to get from Point A to Point B.
In this way, I formulated a plan to tackle my manuscript. I decided to do Big Picture things first and then tackle the finer details (ie grammar, word choice, etc).
I write in Four Acts. So I went back to my outline and started with the first act. I looked at each scene, tried to picture how the story “should” flow, and I rearranged scenes. Then I thought about what each scene accomplished and made sure that they did what they were supposed to do. I moved forward in this way through each of my acts.
When I finished that, I went through and looked for emotional flow. What was keeping them apart physically? Then, after they did the nasty, what kept them from being together emotionally?
I’m just finishing up that part right now. Then I’ll hit it for grammar and word stuff and then I’ll let people read it.
I have no idea if this will work for you, but it’s how I did this one. Will it work for everything I write in the future? No clue. But it was something and certainly something better than staring at my monitor and feeling helpless.
3). Be Strategic about the Reveal. When I started to revise, I decided to wait to let others read it until I’d done what I could with it. I’m not sure yet if this was a good tactical decision or not. My thought process was that I wanted to get through my own “vision” before I let anyone have any input into how my vision translated for them. I’ll keep you posted on how this works out for me.
And--- my final thought here---
4). Emotion Trumps Plot. Please note, I have not become a pantser. You may all have a seat again, relax. What I mean is that I have realized that no matter how you plot, if my story doesn’t have that emotional pow, it’s going to be boring. This is sort of a topic for a bigger blog post, but I will add it here anyway. I’ve just been struck again by how plot is important but we read for the emotion.
So, how’s writing going ladies? What have you learned during revisions? Any major epiphanies? Anything that you’ve heard people say before but didn’t listen until you got there and made the mistake anyway?