I'm working on a new method of revision with Archive of Earth. Well, there's an operative word: Method. Up until now I've been sort of reading through the book, noting issues, fixing said issues, going back and forth fixing and unfixing, searching and destroying mistakes and inconsistencies, reading again, and again, and again...

For like eight years on Archive of Fire.

Eight years of revising.

Yeah. Well. Now I'm writing two series (that's the idea anyway) and I simply don't have that kind of time. In fact, Lost Prince was turned in after one quick revision. Now, during editing we did go over it about 5 more times, which I knew would happen.

So instead, I'm employing a worksheet based on Kirt Hickman's book Revising Fiction. I admit I've not read his whole book--some of it was a little mundane for me--but I was really interested in these big notecards he fills out for every scene. They have stuff like "scene name" and "plot points" and "character growth". Stuff that's supposed to happen in every scene. The idea is you can get organized.

It's... tedious. Every now and then I find myself typing away, fixing the thing on the worksheet instead of writing it on the worksheet... but the point of the exercise is to have a contained, easy to sort collection of scenes/chapters that you can work with, switch, thumb through to look for patterns. That sort of thing. See? Organized. I thought it was going to be a creativity killer, but after several epiphanies yesterday, I'm sold.

But. It's taken me days. I plan on pushing through and finishing today. (And finishing the damned Christmas decorations, too. I'm grinchy this Christmas, so look out.)

And it's frustrating as all hell. Mostly because it's been very enlightening. For one thing, something about putting pen to paper always turns on new lightbulbs for me. I draft and revise onscreen, mostly, not doing paper edits until my editor sends me galleys to proof.  I know, I know, I KNOW! You see stuff on paper you don't see on screen. But it's a time issue for me, and also it's become a matter of relying on my editor (Hi Dave in Australia!) cuz he rocks.

So far, though, I like it. I customized the notecards for my style, and I'm also doing them on paper so I can print them out from the 'puter, real worksheet style. But so far so good. I'll let you know more as it goes on.

Also, gimme advice? How do you revise? What works and what doesn't?


Chris Devlin said...

I haven't read Kirt Hickman, but I came up with a crazy/anal method of sticky notes and poster board that has really helped me see the issues in my bloated novel and restructure. I'm nearly done with the second act! It's been a hatchet job, but I really feel it's strengthened the story, the conflict, the punch.
Good luck and murder those darlings!

sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I've done the posterboard and notecard thing, but I'm liking this better because it forces me to think through elements and also scenes as they relate to each other (plants and payoffs, for instance, or the bane of my existence, too many dialogue-only scenes)

So far the book is short so I'll be adding in 10-20K words. Don't have to murder any this time around, I don't think... not that I really believe in that anyway. If it's that good, find a way to make it work.