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