April 21, 2013 by Kira Lyn Blue
For the last couple of months, I have been revising my novel. I’ve gone back and forth over the story so many times I know it backwards and forwards, inside and out, and still don’t know what to do to silence the nagging little voice in the back of my mind that says it’s still not quite right.
Then that nagging voice found a new refrain:
“Hey Kira, has it ever occurred to you that you don’t know how to revise?”
Stupid, annoying, little voice. Grrr. How dare you suggest that I, KLB, have no clue how to… aww, crumbs.
Ok fine, I’m a noob. This is my first major attempt at revising a novel and it would be amazing if I managed to find the perfect revision approach all by my lonesome and by trial and error. Oh, I might eventually figure it out (Hey, stop snickering! I can hear you!) but I’d rather not flounder around in this process any longer than necessary. I have a novel to publish, darnit!
So, I scrambled out to the interwebs looking for help and guidance. And, behold! The interwebs provideth!
First, we have a couple of articles on the process of revision:
1) Plot Your Revision at The How to Write Shop: This article boils revision down to the 10 major things the process needs to accomplish. I like it as an overview of how to do revision.
2) Writing 101: Revising a Novel: A slightly different take on the same topic.
I include both of these articles because of where they agree, not just for what one lacks versus the other. Both of these articles highlight some important revision tools that I found in multiple articles all over the web: giving your novel a 2 week rest before revising so you can come back to it with fresh eyes as a reader, printing the novel out and reading through it and just making notes as you go without trying to revise at that moment.
This is something that I learned the hard way: don’t try to revise piecemeal. Especially if you’re a pantser. Review your work, take notes, make a plan, and THEN go back to revise. Otherwise you will frankenmonster your novel. Which brings me to the next article.
3) Help! I’ve Frankenmonstered My Manuscript!: This article deals with incorporating critique and feedback into your revisions. Notable quote: “Accepting every suggestion you’re given can create a schizophrenic manuscript.” That’s not to say that feedback is unimportant or that you’re critiquers don’t know what they’re talking about. The point of this article is how to take feedback and use it to hone your vision.
Now, we’re to the part of revision that concerns me most: how to fix the plot.
As a pantser, plot and character development just happens in the first draft as I’m writing and I work in all the important development points and reveals as I go. My biggest challenge with this approach is that I’m finding important tidbits are squirreled away in scenes that don’t really belong in the final draft. So, how can I cut weak scenes without breaking pieces of the plot?
Enter Reverse Storyboarding!
4) Storyboard Class: This article explains how to create a reverse storyboard and since we’re using this for novel revision rather than creating a new story, I’d encourage you to pair the idea with Plot Point 4 from the first article Plot Your Revision. I think this will help me when I go to cut scenes that ended up being fluff, so I can keep track of the points that I’ll need to work into other scenes so they aren’t lost altogether.
This was actually something I’d already been trying to do, but my approach was wrong. I was taking notes on each chapter and including too much detail about what happens. Note to self: If it takes you pages to summarize a chapter, you’re summarizing wrong or the chapter is meandering and needs a hard look. Probably both.
Finally, I found a few of other noteworthy articles that I found helpful and have to include here:
5) Revision Checklist by Nathan Bradsford
7) 25 Things You Should Know About Revising and Rewriting by Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds for the NSFW version of dealing with revisions.
Alrighty then! I feel much better prepared now. I can DO this revision thing and make it work. I’m especially excited about the storyboarding idea, which is weird because I will never (again) attempt it as a method to create a book from scratch. My brain just doesn’t work that way. However, I think the revision phase is going to be just the place where I really should take a cue from the plotters out there. (Stop it! I know you’re smirking! I so don’t want to hear any I told you sos from anyone!)
If I can save just one other writer from floundering as I have, it will be worth admitting that I floundered. So, I hope this information helps!
Commiseration Time! If you’ve hit the same struggles, tell us how you fixed it and share resources that helped you in the Comments below!