Construction Zone: Implementing Revisions

We all know by now that I’m impatient to get on with these revisions/rewrites/things-to-make-the-story-better. I’m suffering a heavy dose of second thoughts this week about the massive changes I’m going to make to my draft (you know, the ones I’ve already started on), and whether or not it will still fit the line I’m targeting if I complete them as I’ve planned. And what I’m going to be left with if it won’t. Or if I should be targeting something else entirely, which brings up a whole new set of questions (and the need for even more wordage added). All of this internal conflict may or may not be at least half driven by faulty hormones, which makes it dangerous to make any sort of concrete decision (been there, regretted that). Because I have days like that. Heck, I have weeks like that.

Ahem. Anyway…

Coursework and those pesky doubts above not withstanding, I spent a good week or two just trying to figure out how I should go about the actual making revisions to my draft. Holly hasn’t actually gotten to that point yet (and won’t for some time), but it’s probably something better figured out on my own anyway. I mean, I know how to edit – simply rephrasing text and fixing grammar punctuation issues gets a bit tedious, but I’m fairly confident in my abilities there (no wisecracks about my blog posts – I don’t often edit these, though it’s a given I should). But good lord – where do you start when you’re making massive changes that will move things around, add entire scenes to the tune of 20,000 words, meld some scenes with new/old material, and weave entirely new subplots through the whole thing? For a while there, I seriously considered just opening up a new file and rewriting the whole thing.

But I’m not going to.

One of the things Holly says is most common with writers learning to revise is they get too “slash happy”, and end up deleting good material that could have been kept with some work or a new twist. She cautions against this, and I see the logic and efficiency in keeping as much as possible – especially when you’re an exceptionally sparse writer like myself.

So I’ve decided simply to start at the beginning and work through scene-by-scene, just like I wrote it. I did rewrite the entire first scene, but kept some description, and some of my heroine’s feelings and emotions intact. So already, I’m glad I didn’t just jettison the whole thing – because I like those particular words. Basically, I’m reading what I worked on the night before, then reading further into the old material, and rewriting/revising each piece to mesh with the revised outline. It’s slow going, but I’m sort of developing a rhythm. Part of the reason it’s slow going is because I’m doing rudimentary copy-editing on each scene after I’ve revised it. I’ll do a final pass after the whole thing is done, but I want it to be “pretty darn good” this time before I move to the next part.

How do you tackle revisions? What’s your process (in a nutshell, or out, whichever you prefer)? Do you have one? Are you developing one? Do you drive yourself batty with doubts about the changes you think you want to make?

6 comments on “Construction Zone: Implementing Revisions

  1. Dolly

    Once again – we are going through same issues. The plot layer I intend to add is a major one, which would mean not only adding new scenes but altering many of the ones I have already got to accomodate this. That means not just simple editing, but a lot of rethinking.

    It’s daunting, no question. That’s what had me so slow to start with. But I am doing exactly what you have talked about. I started from the beginning, and as I go through, I am making changes, adding things etc. I must admit, I haven’t come to the most difficult bit yet, because the major plot layer hasn’t been added yet, but I have already had to change little bits that would alter scenes further ahead, but what I tell myself is that as long as I keep going, I am making progress. It may take longer than I want to – and it will be annoying to say the least, but it won’t be the end of the world. This is a learning curve. All the lessons we learn with first complete, submission worthy novel, will be useful for the second one. (you can tell I am an optimist can’t yo?:P)

    So as long as you keep going, taking the steps, you know you are going to get there.

  2. Erica

    Yes we can! And just think of how much better our stories will be for it…

  3. Carol

    When it comes to revisions, sometimes I’m the shell and sometimes I’m the nut. 🙂

    I have no set method for revisions, I just keep going over it until it feels right.

    One thing I started to do, however, is keep a “cut outs” document. Any time I cut a scene out of a WIP I paste it in this document just in case I find a use for it later.

  4. Jamie D.

    LOL, Carol…I think I’m always a nut.

    I’ve heard a lot of people keep a cut-outs file. I haven’t done that yet, but maybe I should think about it…

  5. Jamie D.

    Ack! Sorry Er – I’m trying to figure out how to reply and email comments, and ended up deleting your comment and replacing it with my reply! Gah…I’ll figure it out here soon…

  6. Jamie D.

    I’m an optimist too, thank goodness. I don’t think I’d have even gotten this far without being one! LOL

    We’ll just keep slogging along then. Always nice to know I’m in good company though! Good luck with your own major plot layer…I’ve got several of my own that are being slowly woven into the novel. I can almost enjoy the process to, if I slow down and just let myself!