Thursday, September 17, 2015

Live from the Trenches of Revision Hell

So it begins. I have been told in the past I have impeccable timing. Bad timing, as it may be, but impeccable timing nonetheless. As of last weekend, because I didn't already have enough stress in my life, I have two full novels that need revision, so of course I'm going to start snipping away at the first one right as Mercury Retrograde has entered my sign. I'd like to say I enjoy living dangerously, but...no.

That said, the work has to be done. I can't keep sitting on the Harlequin Hopeful forever. After three incarnations, and a lost (then recovered) draft, it's finally complete...and it's long past time to clean it up and release it into the wild. Then there's the Hot Mess Draft that I completed recently. On it's own, that's 85k ready to go through red pen surgery. Both books are now at the top of my to-polish list, because honestly, I'm ready to kick them both out of the nest.

I'm terribly slow at revising, I think that's why I hate the process so much. This has always been the toughest stage of writing for me. A couple of my writerly friends agonize over writing the draft, then zoom through the revision process. I'd love to be one of those writerly types, but, sadly, I'm not. I've always liked the drafting process, and the proofing/copy editing process, if I'm at all honest with myself. It's that middle stage, the hard revision, that gets me every time.

Several years ago, I took a six-month class on novel length manuscript revision. I'm linking to it, because I'm sure someone will email me to ask what class I took. I'm not an affiliate - clicks and signups don't earn me anything, not even a pat on the head. Just mentioning that as an FYI in case someone feels the need to flambe my carcass for posting about stuff that isn't free. (You would be surprised...or maybe not...)

The course was expensive, almost the cost of a college course, but it was worth it. The process saved both Wave Rider, a short story, and Wicked Obsessiona novel, from the scrap heap. It  showed me how to organize my draft and my thoughts before diving in, then it taught me the process to work through the manuscript, trim away the excess, fix what was broken, and shape what was left.

Revision is still a painful process for me. Lots of reading, tears, cutting, WTFs, and questioning of my own sanity every time I go through it. Only when it's over does the journey ever seem worth it. Probably another of my many unpopular opinions about the writing process, but there it is.

My goal in writing about all this? After spending three days this week trimming, rewriting, and polishing one critical scene, I'm about to break out the revision guide and take it step-by-step through the trenches, if for no other reason than to save as many brain cells as possible. By doing so, I'm hoping there will be fewer three day scene fixes after today, because whoa mama, ain't nobody got time for that.  

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