Friday, September 4, 2009

Craft Issue #8: Revision

I am in the thick of revising my debut novel, FAITHFUL (out next spring from Puffin), and I want to share some discoveries I'm making about the whole revision thing.

First, my editor, Jen Bonnell, is brilliant. She has pinpointed issues both large and small, and I think the novel is growing better with every pass. I like to look at revision as a chance to make the work perfect, a time to put my own ego aside, and "re - envision" the work.

Here's discovery #1: I had to restructure a large section of backstory. Jen helped me break the section down into discrete scenes, and then to think about layering only the most critical of these scenes back into the work as flashbacks. This both enriches the work and gets rid of that bogged down initial stuff.

Discovery #2: Ooo - this one kind of hurts but is most rewarding. I'm retyping the entire manuscript. That's right. First I print out a chapter and proofread it on the paper (I don't know why, but proofing on paper works better than proofing on the computer screen). Then I retype it, bit by bit. If I start typing too fast, I take a break (craft a blog post, get some coffee...). I have rediscovered my love for my character, and been able to go deeper into her head with this technique, which is slow but powerful.

Discovery #3: After finishing a chapter, I read it out loud. Slowly. To my dog, or the empty room when he gets tired of it. I try to hear the cadences and the rhythms. I find a lot of mistakes and slow spots.

I really recommend this wonderful book, NOVEL METAMORPHOSIS, by Darcy Pattison, too. She has tons of revision tips.

Back to work!


david elzey said...

i have always had to print out and do hardcopy edits. i need to physically manipulate the words as much as possible for the right fit.

and though the family doesn't know this, i often walk around the house when they aren't around reading pages aloud. so many jagged edged get worn off when i say things out loud and can really hear the narrative.

deep in the revision process myself with my current packet and for the first time really feeling good about it. tim has me seeing things i didn't realize were there - like nuggets of gold i was careful enough to bury in the first draft but too busy to mine. don't tell anyone i said this: it's sort of fun, when it's flowing.

good luck with your re-visions!

Spice Girl said...

Your secret is out, David. Mwaha-hahaha!

Janet Fox said...

Yay David!! I'm so glad it's going well for you. Tim seems amazing, and this is great to hear.

Yeah, I'm awfully glad I have the house to myself during the day. Sometimes Boomer looks at me like I'm nuts. But he's a Basset, so I just look right back.