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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Writer's Mind: Revisions

Revisions. Ugh. I find them almost as hard as starting a new project. In some ways, they're harder, because I have to examine my newborn baby closely for areas that are sick and need intervention. I'd like to believe they're perfect as they come out, but of course they're not.

My writing process: everyone's is different, so I'll let you in on mine. I write a first draft with no corrections. I make notes to myself along the way: "This sentence is bad but I'll fix it later." "Anac," which means I want to check whether the word or phrase was in use in that time period. "Go back and fix earlier references" when I change something. So it's really raw. I do the entire manuscript that way.

Then I do a major overhaul; send it out for critique; revise again; and give it one final look before I send it off.

I am in the first, major revision mode on two different projects at the moment: the last third of a manuscript that is due on the editor's desk on November 1st and the first three chapters of a new project for a proposal. I want to take that one with me to the ACFW conference in Denver next week.

The final third is the easier project. By that point in the story, I know my characters well and I know where the story is headed. Revisions consist of cutting out the junk, and making the writing sing and filling in a historical gap here and there.

But the urgent project at the moment are the three chapters for conference. And man, it's miserable. As usual, I started the story in the wrong place and had to cut out the first two scenes. Some day I hope I will figure out the right place to start the story before I write boring, unnnecessary stuff!

On top of that, I used different names for the same character. Oops. Another character didn't get a name. Double oops. And a third character changed from a teenaged Jewish girl to an older African Americian woman, and I had to decide if she was a protege, a mentor, or a confidante. So Miriam became Maggie and is neither Jewish nor African American but Irish.

All of that before I've started revising the actual wording of the manuscript at all.

Terry Brooks, author of marvelous fantasy books, wrote a writing manual called Sometimes the Magic Works.

That's what pulls me through the revision stage. The rough, raw, ugly baby turns into something magical--something that editors and readers want to read.



Jan Parrish said...

Praying for you as you revise.

Tami said...

Praying for you during the rewrites! :)