Revision

Some writers revise as they go, so in touch with their inner editors that they choose each word with a deliberate grace.

I am not one of those writers. I’m often not afraid to just throw in an approximate word to get me through the first draft. There is room to revise later and I’m very fond of whoever said “You can’t edit a blank page.” Someone could easily have the next bestseller in her head but without ever putting it down on paper the public will never know. So I race through the rough draft sometimes, if the characters and plot come easily, and then see what I have at the end.

Then comes time for revision. There have been a couple stories where what I have at the end isn’t what I thought I was going to write about in the beginning. Somehow the story took me with it and the characters made their own decisions – just like they’re supposed to. The next thing you know I get to struggle with whether to remake them into my original vision or let their own ideas shape my final manuscript.

“Burning Bright” was one of those manuscripts. I had the two of them with a different mission, to find another version of remnants of life in the story. They made their own rules and informed me later, which worked out well enough for me but not so well for Isra. When I read it after I finished the draft, I realized how much they needed to have the plot go the way they took me rather than how I planned to take them.

Still means I have a lot of things to revise. Earlier plot points that would have led to my original ending had to be rerouted. The character development sometimes needs to get a little deeper. Every now and then entire characters have to be ousted from the story. They’re generally bit parts that just clutter the story I’m telling, and I can’t see that until I’m finished.

The good news is once the process is finished, the sparkling story is ready to go somewhere and be read. In the process right now with another novel, and now I’m wondering if the title doesn’t fit the story. Still, just another piece to revise and make the best I can manage.

What are your rituals through revision? Do you follow the set vision in your head as you go, or do you let the drafts fly and fix them later?

Noveling

I like to have it as an official rule that I only work on one novel at a time, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me. I’m revising Don’t Tell Your Mother with some success, but … but … but … !

So, of course, when I’m trying to focus on one, ideas start pouring out of my head. What’s the deal? Why can’t they just wait until I get to that lull where the current project made it through the big rewrite and needs less attention?

It seems to happen each time I get to about this point. I don’t want to abandon the current project and leave it in a randomly drafted state. It’s less random than most of my rough drafts, but it still leaves a lot that needs to be fixed, tweaked, whatever you want to call it.

Instead of completing denying the other one, I’ve begun plotting it. I am trying to hold it off so I can focus on it. I’m not one of those people who gets enough writing time to write until I’m blocked, which means I don’t need four works-in-progress at any given time.

Not that I don’t have those, but most of them are short stories that need revision, rather than novels that are begging me to write them.

I wish I knew a faster way to revise, but my rough drafts come out fast because of my focus. I think rewriting takes more of my thoughts to get the manuscript where I want it, and that makes it slow.

Any other thoughts on that? Do you work on one major project at a time, or dabble in several at once? At what point is it okay to start on that new project? How do you know you’re done with the last one?

Are you ever done with the last one?

The Final Edits

I got the final revision notes back from my publisher for The Art of Science. I was so excited I went through them in record time. All that I have left is to create the study guide, and I’m feeling really good about the book right now.

The study guide causes me a bit of anxiety since I’ve never done anything like that before. Luckily I have some guidance and a book or two with examples. It’s hard for me to imagine my book being used in a classroom and having it discussed, but the possibility exists and is much more likely with an included study guide.

I also heard my book is on the illustrator’s schedule. Still on track to be published early 2009 so far!