Monday, December 7, 2009

The Red Ink Blues, or, Revising Your Novel Without Pulling Your Hair Out, Part I

So things have been going pretty well with my revisions of Mara's story. Forgiven, is that a terrible title? That was one of the biggest words when I Wordled the entire manuscript.

Hmm.

Oh well, there'll be plenty of time to second guess my title choices before I'm ready to query.

Meanwhile, since I know so many of you made so much progress in November and will be revising soon, I thought this week I'd share some of my favorite resources for novel revision.

Today's pick is NaNoEdMo, a site devoted to editing your manuscript. There are great articles available, including one by Tabitha Olson, whose contest I recently featured. "Tell Me First" serves as a great reminder that it's okay to "tell" in a first draft, but to go into greater detail for your revisions. Another article that I'll remember while revising was "Cut it Bigger", by Christine Taylor. Don't be afraid to use all the senses, she advises, and remember to get deeper into your character's head in the re-write.

But the most useful to me was Amber Cook's "Ask Not Only What You Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Your Editing (When March Is Over)" I've pasted in the bit that really helped me below:
"Establish what you’re editing towards.

Start general. I want to write a good book that people will want to read. Make a list of your favorite books and ask yourself what is it about them that made them such favorites. Why did you read them, and why do you care about them? Especially books you’ve either read repeatedly, or stories which stand out vividly in your mind (even if you only read it once). When you figure out what makes them, in your own opinion, so good, you’ll have an idea of what you want to be shooting for in your writing.

Now get specific about your novel. Do you want it to be a really scary story? Gut-wrenching drama? A humorous piece of refreshing escapism? A place to share your experience with a traumatic event in the hopes it can help other people going through the same thing? Which is all another way of saying: what kind of experience do you want to give your reader?

Look at what revved you up to write it in the first place and what drove you to actually sit down and write it. What makes it something you would love to share with other people?"

The bolding is mine, because I wanted to stress the importance of this sentence, which is something I never consciously think about during my rewrites. But it's something I thought of all the time while I was planning the novel, in the pre-writing, and even the initial writing stage. Somehow, once I finally get to the revision stage, I'm so caught up in what I have to do to make it perfect, I forget what it is I loved about the work in the first place.

So pop on over to NaNoEdMo for all the great editing resources there. They even have a forum, one more site to suck up the time you should be spending writing, LOL. But you don't have to be a member to benefit from their wisdom.

Happy Revising! ;)

17 comments:

Abby Annis said...

Thanks for the link. I'll be needing it after I finish rewriting my brains out. There is seriously something wrong with me. I know you keep saying I should give it some space, but I just can't let this story go. Grr.

Though I kind of like Forgiven for your title--and don't hate me for pointing this out--there are a lot of novels out there already with that title. Smile. Remember you're a winner. :)

Susan R. Mills said...

I'm heading over now. Like Abby said, I'll be needing this when I'm done with my rewrites.

Sara Tribble said...

Love it! Those are some nice tips! And no, Forgiven isn't a bad title at all! I actually did my major revisions and am still tweaking a few smaller ones, repeat words/minor stuff not pertitant to the plot at hand--though I hardly have any of that due to my tight word count!

Abby Annis said...

Okay, so maybe I'm a little slow this morning and there aren't really a lot, but there are a few with that title. :)

Amy Saia said...

Thanks for this blog--it's nice to have this kind of information!!

Tere Kirkland said...

Abby, thanks for googling for me, since I hadn't yet. I'm not attached to that as a title, or anything, but I'm wondering if I can use it in a longer title. Hmmm... Somehow, I doubt Wordle will be much more help.

Susan, hope that the articles will steer you in the right direction!

Sara, good luck with your revisions. I actually under-wrote Mara's story, so I have the luxury of beefing up the mss, but I'm still trying to be as economical with words as I can.

Tere Kirkland said...

Amy, glad I could help!

Tamika: said...

Thanks Tere! I will need this link in another month- almost there! I love the excerpt, there are a few books that come to mind that gripped me. I would love to translate that in my own writing. I plan to make that my aim!

L.T. Elliot said...

Excellent post, Tere. I love thinking of revisions with specific goals in mind. I once heard someone say they went through no less than 8 revisions, each geared to a different aspect. I thought it was brilliant.

Lisa and Laura said...

Great post! I love the advice about revising with specific goals in mind. We usually make a list of the stuff we need to address and then divide it up between rounds of revisions.

Stephanie Jenkins said...

Great post and link! Revisions can be scary so having certain goals for each revision is awesome advice. Oh, and I love your title. :)

Voidwalker said...

As far as the title second guessing, I have that problem with my 2nd novel that I'm semi-working on. I just cannot stand the title, but I can't find one that hits me! I feel your pain. :P

ElanaJ said...

Those are the best tips I've ever read for revising. Thanks for the link to the other blog too! Going now...

Corey Schwartz said...

Excellent post, Tere. I LOVE your blog, but just as an FYI, it is a little bit of a strain on the eyes. It may just be me (I have congenital cataracts) but just wanted to mention because I wouldn't want you to lose readers on account of font colors!

Renee Collins said...

Very good post. I think editing can seem very daunting at first, but it's really not so bad if you break it up into small pieces.

Jade said...

Thanks for that, I'm sure it will come in handy. I doubt my editing will be done any time soon.

jessjordan said...

Eek! Revisions! I was about 15k into my rough draft when I decided I had to change a subplot. Which means I'm breaking all kinds of rules and starting over again. Ugh!

Best of luck!