Tag Archives: revision

Progress Report

I am finally at the part of my novel revision where I am done writing entire scenes and chapters from scratch and am able to integrate part or all of a given segment from my original draft. There will be a few new scenes to write, simply because the current of the story changed a little from its original course, but for the most part the new words are generated. Now on to the endless evaluation, trimming, and restructuring of the 75,518 words left in my doc of the original draft that is not yet integrated into the new one.

I have no idea how long it will take me to make this revision a cohesive whole. Hopefully not too much longer.

The last few weeks (month, even? Basically since I kicked the bronchitis finally and recovered my life equilibrium) I have moved things forward at a good clip. Keep it rolling, keep it rolling, keep it rolling.

Last night I was trying to remember when I actually started writing on this revision draft. Had to check the create date on my Word doc, because I didn’t make a good note of it inside the doc, nor did I make a note of it here anywhere. January 7, for the curious. Basically 5 months ago.

I’ve written 35,000 in five months. Okay, fine, SOME of them were already written, but I am sure at least 20,000 were brand new words. Which is, yeah, okay, not fabulous, but also not that bad when I consider just how little time and energy I have had to devote to this project. I will be happy with my stat’s if I can finish revisions on the rest of my first draft by the 6 month mark.

July 7.

That’s 23 days from now. If I do the same amount of work every day, that’s 3283 words a day moved from the old draft to the new (with necessary trims, additions, and reworkings). If I count it by chapters, it’s a little more than one chapter per day on the old counting (because I am up to Chapter 15 of 42 in the old draft).

Those measures are not unreasonable. They are not unattainable – provided I touch the project every day.

Eye on the prize. Keep it rolling. Come on, muse, just hold your shit together for 3 weeks and 3 days….

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Not Yet Integrated Countdown

The new graft point dropped the number of words not yet integrated into my revision from 90K to 75K. Considering that I am already at 30K, the prospect of adding 75 is much better than that of adding 90. Alas that even the 75 is really going to be, in aggregate, adding about 50K of previously written words and writing 25K new ones because the first version wasn’t right.

There is a segment of the darling section I’m debating keeping in. I don’t think that I will, because I don’t see the narrative function that it serves, but reading back through it, I enjoyed it quite a lot. Perhaps it can be a “deleted scene” that I can post somewhere (here, probably) as an extra to the book when it comes out.

I thought I had it in me to write the next scene tonight, but I made the mistake of reading the not one but two prior iterations of it, and now they are reverberating inside my head too loudly for the actual character voices I was hearing before to be intelligible.

If I want to finish by the end of the month I have to integrate about 2500 words per night, inclusive of any rewriting. Ten thousand word deletion sprees are easier.

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Subplots Falling Like Flies

I am up to 30,000 words on the revision of Anything But a Gentleman and very nearly at an end of the sections I will have to write from scratch. As in, the next scene or two I write might well be the last. Thank God.

I had a thought a week or two ago while driving to work, about more events that could simply be cut out in order to streamline the narrative a little better. It took a bit of mulling on the matter and rolling the new vision around in my head for a few days, but ultimately I realized that I had a darling in my sights. I could shoot to kill without regret.

It was a short intuitive leap from there to realizing that a whole sequence of events that took place basically at the point of integration for old beginning/new beginning were pretty contrived (“plotted”) happenstances rather than natural and organic occurrences that led from what came before. When I took them away and grafted the new beginning to a point a little later on, like a surgeon cutting out a diseased piece of intestine, everything still made sense and still worked – in fact it worked better. The revised sequence of events was cleaner, tighter, and kept the focus a little better on the couple.

I will say that re-thinking the transition between Act I and Act II made me realize how much work I still have to do on the hero and heroine’s interactions and relationship-building, but in a good way. I am both excited to work on those scenes and excited for what enhancement means to the story overall. This story really was one I had to construct all wrong in order to comprehend enough to construct right.

I had meant to cease work on this and start work on the project I mentioned last post in June. Well, today is May 31. I feel like I had a breakthrough today, and I am loath to squander that. I am sure I’ll find new shoals to wreck on soon enough, eh?

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Finished Sample

Having cleared the world’s thorniest sex scene hedge (and there is enough distance between writing it and now that I can say, yeah, I got it!), I am forging ahead in my rewrite at a good clip. I am up over 10,000 words, or a tenth of the novel at its post-diet word count projection. That is basically the section a prospective reader would be able to sample before being forced to commit to buying it. Word is still out from the friend I sent it to as to whether she’d buy based on that section, but I can say this – I would.

I am actually quite pleased with how things are coming together. I have a lot of love for this story and these characters (I’ve spent over three years with them, now, off and on but never entirely out of mind), and getting into these revisions was hard because I felt like I had made so many mistakes in the rough draft. It’s an intimidating amount to have to correct. But now that I am in the thick of it, I am enjoying the act of re-visioning. I have a lot of great material, if I can just cut away the excess obscuring it. I have a lot of themes I am layering in, and the whole is going to be like romance novel baklava.

The list of work to be done is still a mile long. It is still too much to hold in my mind at once. But the parts that have been edited excite me. The parts that need to be written excite me. I can’t wait to get this one finished and out in the world so everyone can enjoy it, most of all me, and that is hugely inspiring to put in the time after my husband and baby are in bed for the night to keep working.

After all, well begun is half done – and I am definitely started.

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How Many Times

…can I start the same novel?

Tonight makes four. Maybe it’s the magic bullet. One more and I’ve got a full chamber*, hey-oh!

If nothing else, it’s the first one that is starting in a substantively different place. Maybe I had it all wrong, trying to set the scene and be atmospheric before jumping into the action. That (that is to say, description and physical grounding) has never been my strong suit, so why attempt to lead off that way except that I thought it would make a great artistic pretension? Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and realize – I’m not artist enough to pull that off.

Lily just gotta be Lily, you know?

I don’t know if I’ll be any happier with this start later, but I was at least happy enough with it tonight to bring in the hero’s first point of view section from Chapter 1 (which did not need to change). And I gave myself a clear thesis for what the heroine’s goal and intention is with her actions. I gave up the idea of being able to tell the reader without telling them. Fuck that. I’m not artist enough for that, either. She can say flat-out, “I’m here to ruin his life.” Yup. Go get him, cowgirl. Just, ah, pro tip – make sure you have the right dude, first.

Or don’t. ’Cause if you did, there’d be no story.

339 words later, I have officially written something for the first time in I can’t even conjure how many months, and attempt #4 to (re)write the opening of this fucking novel is underway. Post integration we are up to 1824 of a projected 30K.

Now if only this feeling of empty, broken despair that leaves me barren of all fucks as far as quality is concerned will just stay in place for another (pauses and does math) 17 or so nights….

*my personal piece is a 5-shot revolver. So yeah. Full.

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Why Are You Telling ME? Tell Her!

I have been working on wrapping my head around this re-vision editing project. One thing I have always known about how I wrote this novel down, is that there was WAY too much expressed through character thoughts rather than character actions/interactions. I have highlighted places with comments like “Dear God find a way to make this emotional” and places highlighted with the color that meant “This is irrelevant or too detailed; cut it out.” Beyond identifying passages that were simply too many thoughts, however, I hadn’t really been able to figure out how to impart all of those pieces of character backstory that I feel are pertinent to explaining who a character is or why they are the way they are. There was also maybe a bit too much of telling that the characters were coming to trust each other and not quite enough showing of it.

A few days ago, driving to work, I had an epiphany: at least some of the backstory could be told to the love interest. I mean, duh! What is one of the first things you do when you start falling for someone?: FIND OUT EVERYTHING ABOUT THEM AND WHERE THEY COME FROM AND WHAT THEY HAVE EXPERIENCED AND TELL THEM ABOUT YOURSELF. This was a holy shit how did I not see that moment.

I suppose it’s because most of the stories I’ve written (on) to this point involved characters who already knew one another and were moving from friends/sibling-like-feelings to lovers – they don’t need to discuss their pasts, because they both know each other’s past. The other novel I’ve worked extensively on with characters who were unacquainted has a conflict that basically hinges on the fact that they struggle to open up to one another and either ask for or tell anything about each other.

It’s actually really exciting to me to think about morphing some of these pieces of personal history from character-t0-reader into character-to-character. The hero telling the heroine about hiding coal under his bed as a child so that there would be enough to heat his baby sister’s room through the winter is going to give her a great deal of insight into his life situation, and the reader would still experience the same sympathy for him as they would if he just thinks about it (i.e., tells the reader). BUT the revelation is framed in a way that highlights it better, because it will be symbolic of the relationship between hero/heroine advancing a step. It will also help smooth out one section of too-much-thinking. Plus there is inherently more drama to one person confessing something to another, than simply reflecting on a piece of his past that he’s carried with him for years.

I haven’t yet identified all the places in the text that need this sort of shift, but it’s a new lens through which to view this story (or, more accurately, how I am telling it), and for the first time since I started looking at this revision project I feel like I have a clear and positive step to take.

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Project Management

I finally downloaded Scrivener to give it a try and see if it can be of any help with the project of partially rewriting and then streamlining that long novel I’ve been working on since September 2011. You all remember, I’m sure: the one that’s been sitting drafted but in need of epic rewriting since around June 2013; the one that got put aside because of DragonCon prep the rest of that summer and then me being pregnant and unable to write and then me having a new baby and therefore no time to write. So here we are at the end of 2014, and I am realizing that I will never write again (okay, okay, for the next 3-5 years, depending on how many children we have) unless I learn how to do it at night. So I’m going to learn how to do it at night. And what could be more efficient on the nights when I have no easy scene sketching words to write than to focus on the project with the shortest number of words left? So I said, fuck it, I’ll give the Scriv a try and see if it can help do what I’ve been admittedly too intimidated and/or disorganized to accomplish on my own, and that is figuring out exactly what needs to be shored up and reinforced in the architecture of the story as a whole.

So. Scrivener.

I have thus far only imported my Word doc and split what was one huge file into 44 chapters (plus prologue and epilogue), research, and notes, and added a quick summary of the action in each chapter to the “note card” outline view. Whew, boy, that was a chore – it took an hour and a half, the entirety of baby’s nap last Sunday.

Just seeing it all laid out has helped it all make a little more sense to me, because I can see more of it in my mind’s eye at once. The parts that need to be revised seem smaller when taken as their constituent parts. Also, I had forgotten that at some point last spring I went through and made a legend (by highlighting swaths of my doc) of the parts that can be deleted because they are now irrelevant and the parts that still occur but need details changed. Some of the scenes that I originally thought needed to be reworked can actually just be deleted, and some of the details changed amount to about two sentences in a scene. The amount of work is assailable.

I am still intimidated. I can’t put my finger on why, exactly, except that the beginning is still weak, has always been weak, and in my head is still a bit fuzzy and squishy and uncertain, and I have never been good at writing without knowing exactly what it is I’m trying to get across.

But at least I can count up all the scenes that need to change now. Well begun is half done.

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