Monday, December 1, 2014

Revision time!

So NaNoWriMo is now officially over! Hooray! Beers (or the beverage of your choice) on the house! Hail the conquering heroes! But wait! You're not actually done yet. Here are some tips for getting started on that bane of all writer's existence (well, mine at least) : revision!

Let it go!

The first thing you do after you type "The End" is of course do a little victory dance. Let it all out! You've done something amazing! You've written a novel, something so many dilettantes never manage to do. Maybe have a ginger beer or champagne or some chocolate or something to celebrate the occasion. Mark it down. Then let it be. Resist the urge to take a peek at the magnificence of your words. Hug your partner, walk the dog, talk to your kids, write something else. Whatever it takes, keep away from your manuscript for at least a month after you're done. Forget that it exists. For the purposes of your revision, it doesn't. Not for the next 4-6 weeks. Hands off!

Know what you've got

So you've waited a month. Good writer! Have a cookie! Now it's time for the most painful job in the entire process: reading the first draft. If it's any consolation this really is as bad as it gets - for me at least - and once you're through this particular hurdle, it all gets better in a hurry. While you're doing your first read through it's also a good idea to make copious notes. What I like to do is use different color highlighters to mark things I don't believe, things that bore me, things that confuse me and things that I think are awesome. Then I make notes on general things that I feel should be made a note of. For this I tend to follow Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Revisions for help and inspiration.

Outline that sucker!

Yes, yes, I know. Outlines are Evil! I don't care. Make one anyway. Even if you're an outliner by nature, you should make another one based on the novel you have right now, after your first draft. That way you can assess the structure of your story more easily than by reading through your story several more times. No cheating either. You're going to need it going forward.

Make an action plan!

So now you have an outline and some extensive notes regarding what you've written. It's time to decide what to do about it all. Maybe you've noticed that there's a character that shouldn't be there. Maybe, as happened to me during recent revisions, you've just realized that your ending is so contrived that you're going to have to kill it with fire. For me at least this has been the most exhausting part of the novel writing process. You know what's wrong, now you just have to fix it. It's a good idea to talk to writer friends while planning what to do going forward. You got yourself into this mess so getting a second opinion of how to get out of it would definitely not go amiss.

Take the plunge!

You're ready to jump in feet first! Hooray! Second draft here we go! Gird your loins and jump into the fray! Make it work!

And good luck!

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