Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Blog Chain: Do over

I feel rested after my time away, but it's so great to be back on the blog chain again.. This time around, Sarah asked:

How do you handle revisions? Do you revise as you're writing, or do you wait until you've gone through beta readers and crit partners to revise? How soon after you finish do you begin your revisions?
I don't know why, but this question kind of reminds me of one of the choices you have to make when buying a Powerball ticket.

Would you like your winnings in one lump sum or parceled out over a period of 30 years? I don't buy lottery tickets very often, but when I do, I choose the lump sum. (It's an instant gratification thing. Well, it would be if I ever won.)

I choose to handle my revisions in the same way -- one lump sum. But it has nothing to do with instant gratification. For me, it's about seeing the bigger picture as quickly and clearly as possible.

It also has a lot to do with the way my first drafts are born. I don't write consecutive chapters. I write whatever scene is most vivid in my head at the time, and then piece them together like a puzzle as I go.

It's not really as complicated as it might seem because I do frame the story before I begin writing. (So it's more like a kids puzzle than one of those 150,000,000-piece pains in the butt that my husband and kids leave scattered across the living room floor every once in awhile.)

As I'm writing, I'll let myself mull over other scenes that I've written. Most of the time, the scenes or characters need to be tweaked so they fit with the story. Once the tweakage (teehee I just made a word) has been completed, I'll put the hard copy aside for a few weeks while I think of ways to tighten the scenes, ramp up the tension and give the characters depth.

I usually don't let beta readers see my writing until I'm confident about the pacing and characterization. After it has been shredded by betas, I'll go back to the drawing board for another round of revisions.

How do you handle revisions?

Check out what the mah-velous Michelle Hickman said before me. The ever-cool Eric is up next.


Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I like the new background!

It's very useful indeed to be able to see the overall picture of a book. That's why I like to read mine through before diving into chapter-by-chapter edits.

Kat Heckenbach said...

I usually go back over the last chapter or scene I wrote and do some editing, then move to the next scene or chapter. Sometimes, I feel like I have to go back and read from the beginning to make sure I'm taking things where they need to go and not forgetting things. But I still go back and do an overall edit at the very end.

I do see the value of doing it your way, though, Kat. I think if you can pour out the whole story without worrying about details you can stay in that creative mode, then switch to analytical to do your editing.

Eric said...

Oh sure, set me up to fail right out of the gate. Ever-cool? Me? As if LOL.

I like your process though. It's funny, but the way you look at projects is very similar to my own view. But I'll get to that tomorrow ;) Nice post.

Crimey said...

How do I handle revisions? With a sledgehammer. No really.

I tend to revise after I'm done with a chapter, but only light revising. Like you, I also don't write in order which is why when I finished the first draft of my current WIP I ended up cutting 20k.

Cole Gibsen said...

Love the new look! I'm the same way with revisions. If an old scene doesn't work with a new one I'm writing I won't be able to concentrate on the new one until I make the old one work. Wow. I can barely understand what I just wrote. lol

Christine Fonseca said...

Love your new look around here! And welcome back - you were missed!!!

I stew and stew and stew as I write...I just have to!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Love the powerball comparison! I'm a lump sum kind of girl too;)

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Whoa! I've never been able to write a story out of order. Major kudos to you for being able to do that! My problem is that I only ever know the beginning and ending of a story. The rest is a mystery. So I have to unravel it chronologically. But I'm still in awe of you.

Sarah Bromley said...

Okay, now I'm convinced blogger ate some comments of mine because this is the third link in the blog chain that I KNOW I've read before and commented on and's not here.

In any case, I like the Powerball analogy. I also think it's interesting that you write in scenes and later pull them together. One of my crit partners does that the snippets of your writing that you've poster actually remind me of hers. Makes for incredibly rich scenes, I've noticed.