Sep 21, 2016

insanity by revision

Lately my novel has been going through Revision Hell. Er, maybe it's more appropriate to say I'm going through hell while I attempt revisions. 

Taking the advice of several writing blogs on How to Revise Your Tired, Hopeless Little Novel, I came up with my own plan. I haven't decided yet if this is the best plan in the world, but it has helped me to organize my revisions. For the most part. Sort of. 

This is how I've gone about it so far.
1. Finished novel
2. Did quick read-through during which I made notes in my handy little spiral notebook. Notes consisted of listing problems in the story such as inconsistencies, missing characters, backstory needed, info dumps, etc. I also noted pacing issues and major editing needed. I then went through each item and labeled them as Global (affecting the whole novel), Local (affecting that scene), Backstory, Edits and Questions. 
3. Created a document called "Revision Notes" (see below) and transferred my handwritten notes to Scrivener creating three lists: Global, Local and Backstory. Text in black are the problems, text in blue are the possible solutions. I then color coded each item by level of difficulty:
Not highlighted = not terribly difficult
Kind of a pain
Definitely painful
Get it over with ASAP — — DONE

 Yikes! See that down there??? Once I transferred my handwritten notes and saw all that yellow and how many items I actually had, I may have sobbed a little or thrown a shoe across the room. It was definitely disheartening in a "I'm never going to finish this novel I hate my life why do I suck so bad" kind of moment. That screen shot shows three of the highlighting colors, but trust me, there was quite a bit more yellow than that!!!

4. Now loaded with my Endless List of Problems, I started with the backstory first -- then went on to Global. This is when I discovered not all my yellows were created equal. Some actually needed New Scenes Altogether. That's when I color coded my chapters and scenes (in pink hues on the left) to show how much revising was needed. 

--  Bubblegum pink = "needs work". This is what I have most of. It entails heavy editing such as redundancy in dialogue, pacing, info dumps, etc. 
--  Bright fuchsia = "full revision needed". Unfortunately this calls for exactly that. 
--  Yellow = "final draft - needs editing". And by editing, I mean tweaking syntax and fixing minor problems like awkward dialogue and description. Basically polishing it up and making it pretty. 
--  Blue = DONE. I don't have any blue yet. 
--  Salmon pink is for chapters only. It tells me that chapter has a scene bearing the dreaded fuchsia. 

At some point I began using the "Document Notes" you see on the bottom right. Basically this is a small replica of my revision notes, but in more detail. They also show my thoughts and questions as well as solutions. 

5. The Now. I am currently going through all my fuchsia scenes and turning them into bubblegum. I am not editing voice or rearranging syntax or deleting unnecessary words or trimming down descriptions at this time. At least, I try not to. Sometimes I get a little caught up, but I'm getting better at ignoring these things. 

Looking back on how I've gone about revisions so far, some of this seems a bit redundant. Handwriting my revision notes was easier to manage than typing, but then I typed them all out anyway. The difference was how they were organized. I like having my revisions in a listed format because it helps me see the big picture more clearly. However, moving each item to 'Document Notes' was essential. (For those of you unfamiliar with Scrivener, this section is connected to the current text file you’re working on, so the notes you take are for that document only.) I'm not sure what I would do different next time, but it seems like I could have done this a little more efficiently.

6. The Near Future. Once my fuchsias are pink, I'll turn them into yellow and then to blue. At some point I'll get my one and only beta reader to do a read through meanwhile thinking of how I can talk someone else into reading 100,000 pages of unpublished novel. 
One can only hope!!!!

And that, my friends, is that! Phew!
Thanks for reading! xo 

May 29, 2016

it is decidedly so

Something I've come to recognize over and over while writing this book is that simplicity is crucial. I've deleted scenes, characters, cut the crap out of dialogue and restructured the entire novel a hundred times, but only recently did I see the real problem. My plotlines. When plotlines get in the way, the main plot gets lost and all these other storylines become cloudy roads leading straight to confusion. Mine were either too complicated or they were excessive to the novel in general. They were muddling the story instead of enriching it, so they had to either be pared down or deleted.
This wasn't apparent to me at first, yet there was a part of me that knew they were getting in the way. So why did I hang onto them for so long? Let me tell you, it's really difficult to admit that something as huge as a plotline is worthless. All that work that went into it, all that time? Wasted! Except that it isn't. Time spent writing is never wasted. Coming to understand the overall vision by incorporating (and deleting) convoluted plotlines adds to my writing experience. Seeing the book in a compact, clear little package instead of a complex, disorienting one has changed my outlook on the novel structure as a whole. 
One plotline in particular has been the impetus for the entire series. I saw its need for removal one day in a writing epiphany. As soon as I realized this can be moved to a sequel, it made so much sense. Streamlining, disassembling and rearranging plotlines or deleting them altogether has given my entire novel new life. It's like the novel can breathe now. Now, hopefully, so can my characters. 

When I asked the 8 ball if my novel would be a bestseller, this was its answer. hahaha!!

xo Kira

Jan 27, 2016

letting go

Why, hello there, little blog! Haven't seen you in a while!
Just in case the crickets were wondering, I've been quite the busy beaver. Pretty much just working on my book over here which consumes most of my free time. Not complaining, just observing this is basically all I do these days except for my "real job" and the occasional custom portrait. 
Writing this book has, however, been the most challenging project I've ever pursued. There was a period when I was only half-heartedly working on it as I was also making a lot of art at the time, but no more. All my focus is on writing this book. Some days are tougher than others. On low days, I can't find anything redeeming about my story, it's a piece of trash, etc. etc. In addition to that, I am without any beta readers, so I'm not getting any help with it, either. Like, no reading groups or classes or even willing friends or family members to help a girl out. The only person that ever gives me feedback is my darling husband, The Best Man on Earth. I think he's read the first eight chapters five times now. 
The actual writing part isn't difficult. I can write and write and write and write, no problem. What I struggle with the most is the story structure and organization of plot lines and characters. Most of the time it's because I have a hard time letting go and my story suffers as a result. This involves characters and scenes mostly, BUT. Once I decide to make that drastic cut, I can see the structure more clearly - because I've simplified things. I need to remind myself of that when I start writing Book #2.