Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Novel revision

My Goodreads.com buddy said, But what if you don't want to change the story, what if you want to remain loyal to your original premise or the characters/people you're writing about?

It's a dangerous thing, to want to control the show, if you ask me. I tend to follow the story and not try to remain loyal to what really happened. As someone who likes to base fiction on real life, for me, that's just a starting point. My original draft looks far different than what my 7th draft looks like. For me, this is a good thing.

I know authors, though, who say they don't put their projects through a zillion drafts, who say they work to get the sentence, paragraph, page perfect before moving on and then do minor revision. Interesting way to work, but it's not me.

Revision styles are as individual as voice. How do you revise? (Post here, for others to benefit from. I love getting your private emails, but then everyone here can't benefit....)


Dwight's Writing Manifesto said...

Mr. Dean Koontz has said on his podcast that he never writes the next page until the previous page is perfect.

With all due respect to a writer who deserves my respect:


Of course the ms has to be ice cold before you edit.

Then you crack the binding in the middle and edit four chapters at a time.

Rinse, repeat. Four random chapters in a pass. Even if they overlap previously edited pages. Especially if they overlap.

It's kind of like planing a piece of wood. You have to start in the middle and take small strokes.

Just my wannabe opinion.

Liz said...

There is a website that publishes a picture a week and writers can write stories about it. I thought you had linked it on your blog, but now that I have time to participate, I can't find it. Do you have any idea what I'm talking about? Thanks either way.

Don said...

I re-type each draft except at the final stages where the changes will be minor. That means that the 248 pages of my just-finished draft will be each be re-typed. It's too easy to not revise and think that I did if I don't do this. From first draft to second is usually quite dramatic. In this case, the draft I finished, draft 2, will get a dramatic re-write for draft 3. Draft 3 goes to my crit group and my expectation is that I'll be doing draft 4 somewhat in parallel in response to crit group reactions. Draft 5 will be probably another complete re-type. Maybe I'll be done then.

Mystery Robin said...

Honestly, if I thought I was faced with writing 7 drafts I'd never even begin a novel. It would just depress me too much.

However, I'm also not a very structured outliner. What I do is "combat outlining." I outline just what I need to know to get to the next big scene in my head - usually 5 chapters at a time.

Then, when I get to the end, I have some structural changes to make for consistency's sake, but not too many.

My goal, though, is to be able to publish a book a year, so I need to develop a process that allows me to finish a book in a reasonable time frame and move onto the next project.

Amy S. said...

I've been revising as I slog through this first novel of mine. I wish I could be more of a 'just get it all down and then go back and revise' type of writer, but I've struggled with that. I think it has to do w/my perfecitionism. It kills me when things 'just aren't right' in my story, so I have to go back, revise and set it straight before moving on. It's taken me a long time to get to where I am, though, so in honor of Nat'l Novel Writing month, I'm trying to just finish my novel already and save revising for December--when I can totally focus on that task--instead of going back and forth between writing and revising. Wish me luck!!

Nicholas Borelli said...

I write a novel straight through the first time. I go back and edit nothing until the book is finished. At that point it's raw. But it's done. After that, I wind up with ten drafts. I don't know who said it, but all writing is rewriting. And it's a great feeling of accomplishment when you take a pencil to the a first draft that's hundreds of pages long.