Our heroine completed the Monster Revision from Hell on Book 1 this weekend, dear Reader. I thought it had me beat for a while, but I prevailed after all. Books 2 and 3 should be far easier. By the time I wrote them, I had a clue what I was doing. Not so with Book 1. It required a dramatic overhaul. I’m sure my beta readers will find many items that need to be addressed. (Eeek!) Still, I take heart in knowing it’s a far better novel.
Revising can be hard work. It is ultimately gratifying, though. For the most part, I love the revising process. I get to take the raw materials of the rough draft and sculpt it into the novel it’s meant to be. Further passes through, especially after good critiques, only serve to polish the piece until it shines. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
I find when I’m revising I can get too close to the words and lose track of the storyline or timeline. That’s when I take a break. A terrific way to take time away from revisions is to read inspiring articles. Check out a few which may give you a fresh approach when you return to your manuscript.
The talented Teresa Frohock has an article in her helluo librorum blog I found interesting. Writing Fiction with the 1-3-1 Method refers to the time-honored method of writing an essay and applies it to chapter structure. I think it’s a great idea. I’m reviewing my chapters for the 1-3-1 points.
In her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors blog, Alexandra Sokoloff wrote about Thematic Image Systems. This is a remarkable look at not just how to identify your theme, but to weave it throughout your novel. I found this fascinating and was eager to employ some of the techniques during my revisions. Do set aside the time to give this a full read.
The reader must be interested enough to keep reading the book, right? Doesn’t matter what genre you’re writing, your plot must move the reader into eagerly turning the pages. The Kill Zone‘s Clare Langley-Hawthorne addresses this issue in Propelling the Plot. There are lessons here for writers of all genres. Keep that storyline moving.
Part of the revision process is getting fresh eyes to look at it and offer what should be constructive criticism. We addressed the idea of beta readers a few weeks back, but this article contains some great advice. David Sheppard‘s Novelsmithing has an article called Getting Your Novel Critiqued. You’ll note that it is Part III of a series called, as luck would have it, Writing, Rewriting, Editing. It’s worth reading each section.
Take the break when needed. Get the inspiration you need to dive back in. Don’t be dismayed if you come across advice which inspires you, but makes you cringe at revising all over again. The goal is to make the novel the best you can. The process may take several passes.
As always: “Re-examine all you have been told… dismiss that which insults your soul.” (Walt Whitman) Not everyone’s advice fits all. Look for what sets your imagination on fire. Use what compels you to get back to the manuscript with your sculpting tools.