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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Revision Week: How Leasie Tackles Them

Our first guest blogger for the week is our very own twiftie, Leasie! *cue applause*

Revising The Baby

If you’re like me with your novel, especially the first and second ones, then your novel is more than a bunch of words put together on a page. Your novel is your baby, and maybe you're the type of parent that sees straight away that this novel needs to be ripped to shreds to make it stronger or maybe you’re like me who’s heart is so invested in the novel that you just want to tuck it away in a little corner so that nobody can hurt it.

The problem with this frame of thought is that if you’re protecting it, then it’s not going to be as strong as it can be. Just like exposing kids to germs in the playground, if it is to grow up and become a big strong novel it must be exposed to these revisions.

So with that in mind I’ve recently embarked on revising in a way that would be considered as some of those writers with nerves of steel as a waste of time. Never the less it has eased me into this process a lot more then jumping right in. I can still sleep at night, my baby is still protected but most of all it is getting stronger just like it should. So I’ll share with you my time line with Mortal Affairs (my novel currently going through revision).

Step 1: Finish the first draft. Celebrate on face book and tell friends that your first draft is finished. Now there is a purpose to this. Once friends know they will want to read it. This will propel you to continue your process. Yes, you’ve finished the book, now you have to feel comfortable letting your friends read it. With some sadness but a lot of hope you realise after your token day, week or month that it’s time to separate yourself from everybody else who has written a book that lay in some mouldy file in the back of the computer.

Step 2: Structural Edits. Now this is kind of like the difference between taking your car to get detailed or taking it to replace the roof. Here you read over it again taking note of your characters, areas to expand, characterisation to change, characters to get rid of, entire plots you may decide on a whim to change. For some people they may not want to change a lot, for others their characters would have evolved so much over the writing phase that you realise that they are completely different people.

Step 3: Go over it again, this time for Grammar, spelling and getting rid of some of that awesome purple prose that we love so much. Remember even though in high school an Awesome Adverb would get you an A, most the time the simplest way to say something is best. Also to check that everything you changed in step 2 still makes sense.

Step 4: Send it to pre beta’s. Now most people skip this, and really you can if you want. Pre-betas are friends who want to read it mostly for the story. You tell them to look harshly at it and they do, but no matter how hard they try, they are your friends and not authors so as hard as they rip they are still going to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s like a Beta light. They will still pick up the most glaring errors, but they will do it as a reader and it will psych you up to face the real Beta’s. The notes you get here just helped me to feel confident that my story was ready to face the harsh criticising gaze of the Beta’s. I had taught my baby to walk and now it was ready for the big bad world.

Step 5: Edit it based on these pre beta’s reports remembering that their word is not law (a similar rule applies for betas here) and that if you think something really works, this is a snapshot of your creativity so you can’t let people ruin your baby. At the same time remember that it’s pretty likely you are seeing it with rose-coloured glasses. Your Betas are telling you this to make the book better, they do not, no matter how much it feels like it, have a personal vendetta against you.

Step 6: Rinse and repeat with the Real Betas. By now you should feel confident enough in your work to send it to Beta’s. In theory the work they’ll do will be quicker as they shouldn’t have to pick up on the most glaringly obvious problems. Take what they say and edit your work again. Edit until it glitters.

Step 7: Shine up that query letter and send the baby off to tackle the big bad world on its own. Prepare for months of not hearing from it (partials), weeks where all you hear is how it’s failed (rejections) and hope for that time when it comes back to grown up, holding a full offer from an agent.

So there you have it, how I work myself up to the revising process. I hope I've been somewhat informative and I just wanted to say thanks for having me over Rachael.

Thanks for joining us, Leasie!

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