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18 August 2013 @ 10:42 am
A Needed Time Away  
Last week, I started the long revision process of fixing up the novel I finished last summer, BUMMIN' IT. I'm having a great time. It's so good to be back in my creative mind. I've spent the last 9 months developing a side business developing awesome resources for teachers to purchase and use in their classrooms. It's been a much-needed time away from the novel page. From 2005-2012, I wrote 4 novels like a chain-smoker...finishing one, only to move right on to the next one. After not-yet-selling any of the first three and with this business opportunity in my lap, I took some time off from novel writing.

Now, I'm back.

I had a bunch of beta readers who gave me their sincere and helpful thoughts about the novel. So here's what I did:

(1st) I read through all their comments and mentally categorized all the topics to approach in revision.

(2nd) I combined all their comments/big-edits/line-edits together into one prototype book that I had printed through Lulu.com.

(3rd) I compiled all the big revision ideas into a 6-page Editor Letter to Myself. This is broken into categories like DEEPEN THEMES, BIG PLOT FIXES, LITTLE PLOT FIX CONSIDERATIONS, TIMELINE, SETTING, then ONE FOR EACH CHARACTER

(4th) I go page by page through the novel and type in all the little line edits and easy addition/rewording fixes. I know some authors do this after they've fixed all the big things because they'll save time by not having to fix certain wording things. For me, it's like a snowball effect...I knock out a bunch of the little stuff to get the snowball rolling with some speed down the hill. Also, the fixes easier to find when the wording is all the same. If I go fixing a bunch of big passages, I feel like I end up wasting time later looking for a little wording issue I need to fix, only to find out that passage isn't in the novel anymore. If I just fix it first, then I don't have to worry about letting a little thing slip through the cracks.

(5th) I go through and address the larger plot issues.

(6th) I deepen the larger themes. I look for dialogues or scenes that aren't fully earning their page space and reimagine how to purpose that page space. Maybe a conversation that is currently just introducing character can be altered to also layer the thematic meaning throughout, in an unforced way.

Before I did this process, though, the whole thing was completely overwhelming. Revising a novel is a lot like wading into a rushing river and deciding to change its direction. This game plan restored my sanity and gave me confidence to approach this revision with clarity.

Anyone out there revising a novel? What's your process like? And why?
 
 
 
Jennifer Rushjengt on August 21st, 2013 05:58 am (UTC)
YAY for returning to the creative world! Good luck!

I feel like I'm *always* revising these days. But I really really can't complain. Writing full-time is what I've always wanted to do. :-)